Robservations: After 25 years, NBC Sports Chicago looks back on 'I'm back'

Michael Jordan (Photo: NBC Sports Chicago)

Robservations on the media beat:

Twenty-five years ago today Michael Jordan stunned the world with the two-word declaration: “I’m back.” NBC Sports Chicago will mark the 25th anniversary of Jordan's Chicago Bulls comeback with a half-hour documentary premiering at 6:30 p.m. tonight. "I'm Back: The Return of Michael Jordan," produced by Sarah Lauch, Ryan McGuffey and Matt Buckman, features interviews with numerous teammates and other players, Jordan's former agent David Falk, and sportscasters Mark Giangreco and Marc Silverman. The quick turnaround by NBC Sports Chicago follows disappointing news Tuesday from ESPN that it still hasn't completed production on "The Last Dance," the long-awaited 10-part documentary series on Jordan and the 1990s Bulls dynasty. Continue reading

Chicago radio ratings: WBBM Newsradio regains top honors

WBBM Newsradio

In the weeks leading up to the coronavirus crisis Entercom all-news combo WBBM 780-AM/WCFS 105.9-FM moved up to No. 1 among all Chicago radio stations, according to the Nielsen Audio survey released Monday.

February figures also showed WBBM Newsradio first in mornings with Felicia Middlebrooks and Pat Cassidy, and tied for first in afternoons with Keith Johnson and Lisa Fielding. Also first in afternoons was Kevin “Koz” Koske, who soon may be on his way out at Hubbard Radio hot adult-contemporary WTMX 101.9-FM. Continue reading

Robservations: TV news rises to coronavirus challenge

Terrell Brown (Photo: ABC 7 Chicago)

Robservations on the media beat:

The world changed dramatically this week — and so did television. As it has few times in our lives, TV suddenly became the source of essential information to millions of viewers hunkered down at home and desperate to make sense of the bewildering and rapidly developing coronavirus story. At the outset of the crisis, Perry Sook, chairman and CEO of Nexstar Media Group (parent company of "Chicago's Very Own" WGN-Channel 9), told investors: “If you’re quarantined in your home and one of the few things you can do is watch television, I think advertisers see the benefit in that.” As inartfully as he phrased it, Sook may have been on to something. News ratings are up substantially, according to preliminary reports, even as newsrooms across the country make adjustments on the fly and encourage employees to work from home. News media across all platforms will take on an even more vital role providing accurate information and a semblance of reassurance in the days and weeks ahead. Continue reading

Robservations: Coronavirus concerns sending newsroom staffers home

Prudential Plaza

Robservations on the media beat:

The coronavirus story became personal for multiple media organizations Wednesday after an unidentified employee of the Prudential Building tested positive for COVID-19. The two-tower downtown complex houses Tribune Publishing (including the Chicago Tribune), Hubbard Radio Chicago and Entercom Chicago, all of which encouraged employees to work from home if possible. Elsewhere a growing number of Chicago area journalists also began working remotely, including much of the staff of Crain's Chicago Business. As a precautionary test on Thursday, virtually the entire editorial department of the Sun-Times will remain off site too. "Let’s be clear: This is a trial run," the Sun-Times wrote in an editorial. "We have seen no evidence of COVID-19 in our newsroom or in the places we send reporters." Continue reading

‘Math in Music’ series adds up for WFMT

Dr. Eugenia Cheng

This Saturday — March 14 — is known internationally as "Pi Day," when the date's numerical value of 3.14 matches the Greek letter Pi, symbolizing the first three digits of the mathematical constant. What better day to introduce a series on the relationship between math and music?

"Math in Music" will launch online then as an 11-episode digital series from WFMT 98.7-FM, the Window to the World Communications classical music station. Continue reading

Robservations: WCKG rebrands as 'Sportsbook Radio'

WCKG 1530 AM

Robservations on the media beat:

WCKG 1530-AM, the DuPage Radio sports/talk station that's been calling itself "Fox Sports Radio," this week is being rebranded as "Sportsbook Radio." The move capitalizes on the legalization of sports wagering at casinos in Illinois. No word yet on any new programming at the west suburban Elmhurst station or on a replacement for Rich Eisen, whose syndicated midday show will be dropped by Premiere Networks, as of April 7. "We're planning to develop long-form and short-form 'Sportsbook Radio' content on WCKG, with local casino and media partners to be announced," said station manager Matt Dubiel. "That work is underway, but rather than have sports personalities cover gambling, we'd prefer to have gambling experts on air. Ultimately, we will see our studio inside a Chicago-area sportsbook to get as close to the action as possible." Continue reading

Robservations: College of DuPage evacuation plunges WDCB into dead air

College of DuPage Student Resource Center

Robservations on the media beat:

Steve Darnall

An emergency evacuation on the College of DuPage’s Glen Ellyn campus knocked public radio station WDCB 90.9-FM off the air for about 35 minutes Saturday afternoon. Listeners to “Those Were the Days” were hearing the rebroadcast of a 1945 speech by President Franklin D. Roosevelt when host Steve Darnall and his crew were forced to vacate their studio in the west suburban college’s Student Resource Center. Station manager Dan Bindert called the evacuation “a precautionary measure [that was] ultimately resolved without incident,” adding: “Normally in emergency situations our crew has a little more time to line up backup programming or set up an alternate form of remote broadcasting, but the nature of this particular safety event was different. The safety of Steve and the entire crew was our most important concern. We thank our audience for their patience and understanding.” WDCB came back on just in time for Darnall and Bindert to explain what happened and sign off the show. “We'll see about putting the missing pieces in place when we archive our show on Tuesday,” Darnall tweeted. Continue reading

Clark Weber 1930-2020

Clark Weber

As a pioneering rock and roll disc jockey in the 1960s and for decades later as a multifaceted talk show host, Clark Weber entertained generations of Chicago radio listeners with impeccable style, class and professionalism.

Beloved by fans as “Mother Weber’s Oldest Son,” the legendary broadcaster, program director, advertising executive and industry elder statesman died of cancer Saturday in Evanston. He was 89. Continue reading

Robservations: Tom Skilling delivers sunny post-op forecast

Tom Skilling (Photo: Bill Snyder)

Robservations on the media beat:

Legendary meteorologist Tom Skilling came through gastric bypass surgery Wednesday with a sunny outlook and a smile. He released a photo of himself on social media with a message from Bill Snyder, weather producer for Nexstar Media Group WGN-Channel 9: “Happy to report that our very own Tom Skilling is doing well, and resting following successful gastric bypass surgery earlier today. The doctor had to repair a small hernia that he found when they went in, leading to a longer than normal procedure. But Tom is resting and in good spirits!” Skilling, 68, who underwent the operation to lose weight, told WGN: “Thank you for all the wishes. It got me through this procedure. It’s the first step but what a step! I can’t wait to tell you about it as the process continues.” Continue reading