iHeartMedia launches 24/7 Black Information Network today

BIN: Black Information Network

Radio giant iHeartMedia announced the launch today of a full-time national audio network “dedicated exclusively to providing an objective, accurate and trusted source of news coverage with a Black voice and perspective.”

BIN: Black Information Network will be headed by Tony Coles, former senior vice president of programming for iHeartMedia Chicago. Coles, who most recently was executive vice president of programming for the company’s west region, will be based in Chicago as president of BIN. Continue reading

Robservations: Is Alden on the move at Tribune Publishing?

Chicago Tribune

Robservations on the media beat:

Staffers at the Chicago Tribune are bracing for bad news — but hoping for a miracle. Today marks the end of the standstill agreement for Alden Global Capital, the New York-based hedge fund that owns 33 percent of Tribune Publishing shares. That means Alden is now free to increase its stake in the company — including the possibility of acquiring the 24 percent held by Patrick Soon-Shiong, owner of the Los Angeles Times. As majority stockholder, Alden would be free to bleed the company dry through sweeping layoffs and other cutbacks to vital journalism. “I would love our team to be remembered as the team that saved the newspaper business,” Alden's managing director, Heath Freeman, told the Washington Post in an interview last month. The last guy who made that claim was Michael Ferro, who wound up selling his shares in Tribune Publishing to Alden. Continue reading

As Joe Donlon bows out, 'the hunt is on' for new top anchor at WGN

Joe Donlon

If all goes as planned, the next time we’ll see Joe Donlon is September 1 when he debuts with Marni Hughes as the Monday-through-Friday anchor team on “News Nation,” the national nightly newscast coming to WGN America.

The question now is who will replace Donlon at WGN-Channel 9 where he’s been co-anchor of the 5, 6, 9 and 10 p.m. newscasts with Micah Materre since 2018. Nexstar Media Group owns both WGN America cable network and WGN locally. Continue reading

Robservations: Colleagues to honor Pam Zekman with virtual tributes

Pam Zekman

Robservations on the media beat:

Pam Zekman, the legendary investigative reporter who lost her job last month after 39 years at CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2, will be honored by her colleagues with virtual tributes to be posted online at 7 p.m. Sunday. (Here is the link.) Former CBS 2 anchorman Bill Kurtis will host a retrospective of her work, including a few words from Zekman. A second video will feature a montage of remembrances from former co-workers. Over her illustrious career with the Chicago Tribune, Sun-Times and CBS 2, Zekman earned two Pulitzer Prizes, two Peabody Awards, two duPont-Columbia Awards and 24 Emmy Awards. Continue reading

Bruce DuMont celebrates ‘phenomenal’ 40 years for ‘Beyond the Beltway’

Bruce DuMont

On June 26, 1980, Bruce DuMont launched a new kind of political talk show on Chicago radio.

"Inside Politics," as it was called, began as a 13-week experiment on Chicago Public Media WBEZ 91.5-FM. The idea was to bring together political operatives and experts of various persuasions for a free-spirited weekly discussion of the news, politics and public policy. Continue reading

Robservations: WGN Radio’s Ji Suk Yi moving to ‘News Nation’

Ji Suk Yi

Robservations on the media beat:

“News Nation,” the national news startup at WGN America, has tapped Chicago media personality Ji Suk Yi as the face and voice of breaking news cut-ins in the morning for NewsNationNow.com and its app. Her last appearance as evening host at news/talk WGN 720-AM will be July 10. After stints with the Sun-Times and “Windy City Live” on ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7, Yi joined WGN Radio as a morning show contributor in July 2019. She’s been hosting evenings since March. Yi, who emigrated from South Korea as a child and grew up in rural North Carolina, attended Salem College in Winston-Salem, and earned a law degree at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. WGN America cable network and WGN Radio are owned by Nexstar Media Group. "'News Nation' is a marquee asset for Nexstar and we were thrilled that Ji got this opportunity," said Mary Sandberg Boyle, general manager of WGN Radio. From studios in Chicago, “News Nation” plans to debut September 1 with a three-hour nightly newscast. Continue reading

Over and out for Jason & Katie at US99

Katie Bright and Jason Pullman

Today was the last day on the air for Jason Pullman and Katie Bright after 10 months as morning co-hosts on Entercom country WUSN 99.5-FM.

Rachel Williamson, senior vice president and market manager of Entercom Chicago, said the move was prompted by Bright's decision to resign to focus on her personal life. Coinciding with her departure, the station released Pullman. Continue reading

WCGO’s ‘Gabby Road’ morphs into ‘The Hannah and Fred Show’

Hannah Stanley and Fred Weintraub

After eight months as a Sunday morning destination on north suburban WCGO 1590-AM/95.9-FM, there’s a new name and a cast change coming to “Gabby Road with Hannah, Fred and Justin.”

Justin Kulovsek, who's been one of three co-hosts since the show began in October, said he plans to step down after this weekend to devote more time to expanding JAK Digital, his media consulting business. Continue reading

Robservations: Chicago Reader cutting back to biweekly publication

Chicago Reader

Robservations on the media beat:

Tracy Baim (Photo: GlitterGuts)

After 49 years as the city's premier alternative weekly, the Chicago Reader is downsizing to a biweekly publication schedule. Reader publisher Tracy Baim cited a 90 percent drop in advertising revenue due to COVID-19 shutdowns for the cutback. “This was not an easy decision,” Baim said. “We wanted to focus on the current strengths of the paper. We did not have to lay off or furlough any editorial employees during the recent crisis, but it is clear there is still a difficult path to navigate in the coming months and years. This is the right time to focus on streamlining costs to keep our team intact, and to focus on new revenue sources.” There's talk of a renewed focus on "digital content and storytelling." New ownership of the Reader is in the process of converting to a nonprofit business entity under the recently formed Reader Institute for Community Journalism. Continue reading

Harold Lee Rush recalls Bob Wall's 'special time' at WGCI

Harold Lee Rush and Bob Wall (1986 photo)

To a generation of students at City Colleges of Chicago, Harold Lee Rush is known as a legendary broadcast instructor and a pillar of WKKC 89.3-FM, the radio station at Kennedy-King College.

But to thousands of older Chicagoans, Rush is remembered fondly for his key role in one of the most remarkable — and ultimately tragic — chapters in local radio history. Continue reading