Robservations on the media beat:
As local TV stations grapple with the coronavirus shutdown and stay-at-home orders, they're finding new ways to accommodate their employees. Starting today, NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5 will begin an at-home rotation with principal news anchors Rob Stafford and Allison Rosati. One of them will anchor from the studio and one will anchor from home each day, according to Frank Whittaker, station manager and vice president of news at NBC 5. While meteorologists, traffic reporters and other on-air personnel already have been broadcasting from home, NBC 5 and co-owned Telemundo Chicago WSNS-Channel 44 are believed to be the first in Chicago to have their main news anchors do so as well.
In a graphic representation of social distancing, the Chicago Sun-Times today unveils a subtly redesigned front-page masthead that separates its red Chicago flag star from the nameplate. The new version features the line: "Be a social distancing star: Stay home, stay safe, stay six feet apart when you must go outside." Also today the Sun-Times launches an art contest for Chicago-area children called “The Imagination Project.” Kids from elementary school age through senior year of high school are invited to submit digital images of up to five paintings, drawings or computer-aided graphic creations to win prizes. (Here is the link.) Entries are due April 24.
To the surprise and delight of his fans, Jonathon Brandmeier was back behind a microphone over the weekend. For three hours Saturday morning, the Radio Hall of Famer and legendary former Chicago morning star tested the all-new "Brandmeier Broadcast System" online from a studio at his home. He was joined by longtime newsman and sidekick Buzz Kilman, also broadcasting from home. The live show, which featured calls from listeners, was later uploaded as a podcast. (Here is the link.) Asked whether he had plans to make it a regular thing, Brandmeier told me: "More, more, more is coming."
A free teleconference on how journalists can cover the coronavirus pandemic safely will be hosted this week by the Chicago Headline Club. Christine Taylor, managing editor of the Chicago Tribune, will join a panel of medical experts starting at noon Wednesday. Participants must register in order to be sent a secure Zoom link. (Here is the link.) The teleconference will be recorded and posted online after the event.
“16 Shots,” the Showtime documentary on the 2014 Chicago police shooting of Laquan McDonald and its aftermath, is among this year's recipients of Television Academy Honors by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. It was co-produced by Jamie Kalven, the investigative journalist who heads Chicago’s nonprofit Invisible Institute. Kalven was instrumental in revealing the police coverup of the shooting of the 17-year-old McDonald. The annual Television Academy Honors ceremony, which was set for April, has been postponed indefinitely because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Miller Peters, whose name and voice were known to generations of classical music listeners in Chicago, died Thursday at a North Side nursing home after a long illness. The former radio announcer and music director was 88. Born in Huntington, West Virginia, and educated at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, Peters came to Chicago in 1957 to join WFMT 98.7-FM, where he hosted a variety of programs, according to a friend, Richard Porter. After a 20-year stint in the publishing industry, Peters returned to radio in 1982 and joined the former WNIB as an announcer. In 1996 he took on the additional job of music director. When owners Bill and Sonia Florian sold the station for a record $165 million in 2001, Peters retired. Services will not be held because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Friday’s comment of the day: Lissa Druss: Being fortunate enough to call Barry Rozner a friend, I know his tone, his inflection when he speaks. In his beautiful tribune to Ed [Farmer], you realIy hear Barry's own voice behind his keyboard. Thank you, Barry! Heaven just got another angel.