Chicago media preview 2020: Tribulations galore

Chicago Tribune

A few things to look for on the Chicago media beat in the coming year:

Alden Global Capital, the New York-based hedge fund that acquired a 32 percent stake in Tribune Publishing, will be free to increase its ownership interest in the Chicago Tribune parent company on June 30. If history is a guide, look for draconian cuts to the Tribune and its affiliated newspapers after that.

Marquee Sports Network, a joint venture operated by Sinclair Broadcast Group and the Chicago Cubs, will become the exclusive cable television home of Cubs baseball and related programming, starting in February.

The Chicago Reader, the city's premier alternative weekly since 1971, will move to a nonprofit business model, led by publisher Tracy Baim and overseen by the board of the Reader Institute for Community Journalism.

A new president and chief executive officer will be named for Chicago Public Media, the nonprofit parent company of NPR news/talk WBEZ 91.5-FM and urban alternative Vocalo.

The newly created position of news director will be filled at Window to the World Communications WTTW-Channel 11, overseeing the flagship news program "Chicago Tonight."

New morning shows will debut on Nexstar Media news/talk WGN 720-AM with Bob Sirott; Entercom adult album alternative WXRT 93.1-FM with Richard Milne; Crawford Broadcasting urban adult-contemporary WSRB 106.3-FM with the syndicated Rickey Smiley; and Crawford Broadcasting urban contemporary WPWX 92.3-FM with "The Morning Hustle."

Ken Davis and Linda Paul, who hosted the first Chicago Journalism Town Hall in 2009, will convene a second gathering of local media professionals and students in February.

Coinciding with a presidential election year, the Museum of Broadcast Communications will present a new pop-up exhibit this summer and relaunch its website on "The Great Debates" in March. The project will kick off a two-year "re-imagining" of the museum and the Radio Hall of Fame in Chicago.

Ten TV veterans — Jackie Bange, Rich Bernal, Mark Giangreco, Alan Krashesky, Marda LeBeau, Jennifer Lyons, Lynn Hauldren, Jack and Elaine Mulqueen, and Marlin Perkins — will be inducted in the Silver Circle of the Chicago/Midwest chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences on May 8.

Chicago media milestones in 2020:

  • Commercial radio will commemorate its centennial in November — 100 years after KDKA in Pittsburgh broadcast results of the Harding-Cox presidential election.
  • "Those Were the Days," the Saturday afternoon old-time radio showcase on College of DuPage's WDCB 90.9-FM, will turn 50 in May.
  • Chicago magazine, the current iteration of the city monthly that began as a program guide for classical station WFMT 98.7-FM, will turn 50 in December.
  • "Beyond the Beltway," Bruce DuMont's syndicated political talk show originating from the Museum of Broadcast Communications, will turn 40 in June.
  • Allison Rosati, principal news anchor at WMAQ-Channel 5, will celebrate her 30th year at the NBC-owned station.
  • Corey McPherrin, principal news anchor at WFLD-Channel 32, will celebrate his 25th year at the Fox-owned station. (He signed on as sports anchor from CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2.)
  • WLS-Channel 7, the top-rated ABC-owned station, will mark its 25th year as a unit of the Walt Disney Company.
  • Dan Bernstein, midday personality at WSCR 670-AM, will celebrate his 25th year at the Entercom sports/talk station.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday's comment of the day: Marj Halperin: A year of sad media losses for Chicago, at a time when fake news is exploding. Thankful for the solid news sources that remain, and for Rob’s dogged effort to cover them.