Robservations: WGN Radio delays Landecker show for White Sox run

John Records Landecker

Robservations on the media beat:

The advance of the Chicago White Sox to postseason play has delayed the debut of John Records Landecker as evening host on Nexstar Media Group news/talk WGN 720-AM. Monday was to have marked the launch of Landecker’s show, which will air from 7 to 10 p.m. weeknights. But now the Radio Hall of Famer is holding off to avoid multiple sports preemptions or late starts in the coming weeks. Citing the unpredictability of postseason baseball, Mary Sandberg Boyle, vice president and general manager of WGN, said: “John's show will now start once the season ends.” WGN is in the final year of its contract as radio home of the White Sox. Continue reading

Chicago radio ratings: A clean sweep for V103

Joe Soto

WVAZ 102.7-FM, the iHeartMedia R&B powerhouse, recaptured the top spot in the latest Chicago radio ratings, snapping a seven-month winning streak for Entercom all-news combo WBBM 780-AM/WCFS 105.9-FM.

V103 also finished first across the board — including mornings with the syndicated Steve Harvey, middays with Bioncé Foxx, afternoons with Joe Soto, and evenings with the syndicated Keith Sweat. Continue reading

Robservations: John Owens to lead Chicago TV Academy

John Owens

Robservations on the media beat:

John Owens, a writer-producer for Chicago-based Weigel Productions and adjunct professor at City Colleges of Chicago, has been elected president of the Chicago/Midwest chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Owens, who previously worked as a reporter/multimedia producer at the Chicago Tribune, succeeds Steve Novak, who led the chapter since 2015. Calling 2020 “the most challenging of years for all of us,” Owens wrote academy members: “The global pandemic has forced many of us to re-think how to handle video production, as many of us have been forced to work 'at-home' or from a safe distance in the field or in the studio. . . . Despite the challenges from this unprecedented health crisis, our organization is striving to provide as many benefits as possible in an ever-changing industry.” Continue reading

Nate Rodgers comes home to join Fox 32

Nate Rodgers

Nate Rodgers, who began as an intern and desk assistant at CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2 and spent 10 years there as an assignment editor, is returning to his hometown to join Fox-owned WFLD-Channel 32 as a general assignment reporter.

Rodgers, who's starting early next month at Fox 32, teased the move on social media this week, writing: "Hmmmmm something tells me I’ll be adding another mic flag to the collection soon. Y’all ready? Lol. Official announcement coming this week. #TheDreamxxx." Continue reading

Robservations: Tribune Publishing apologizes for phony phishing expedition

Tribune Publishing

Robservations on the media beat:

Employees of Tribune Publishing newspapers — including the Chicago Tribune — were up in arms Wednesday over a company email purporting to offer them bonuses. “We are pleased to inform you that we are providing targeted bonuses between 5,000 and 10,000 dollars this year,” it read. “Tribune Publishing is able to provide this bonus as a direct result of the success created by the ongoing efforts to cut our costs!" The email turned out to be a simulated phishing attack designed to test the vulnerability of recipients to cyber mischief. Coming at a time of pay cuts, furloughs and newsroom closings, Tribune staffers were incensed by the scam. The Chicago Tribune Guild called it "a heartless, insulting and tone-deaf exercise." Amid the uproar, Tribune Publishing released this statement: "Today the company conducted a regular, internal test to assess and reduce its current phishing and malware risk level. Based on input provided by the company’s cybersecurity team and advisors, the content of that test included language regarding employee bonuses. Having fallen victim to attacks of this nature before, the company recognized that bad actors use this type of language regularly, and decided to use the language to simulate common phishing scams. The company had no intention of offending any of its employees. In retrospect, the topic of the email was misleading and insensitive, and the company apologizes for its use." Continue reading

Sun-Times editor Chris Fusco leaving for California news startup

Chris Fusco

Chris Fusco, the veteran Chicago journalist who rose from reporter to executive editor in 20 years at the Sun-Times, is leaving to help launch an ambitious news startup in central California.

Fusco, 47, has been named founding executive editor of Lookout Santa Cruz, which will launch this fall as the first of a network of local news and information sites. He will lead an initial editorial team of 10, with plans for expansion to follow. Continue reading

Orion Samuelson to retire after 60 years at WGN Radio

Orion Samuelson

On the eve of his 60th anniversary as the booming voice of agriculture and business at WGN 720-AM, Orion Samuelson says it's time to retire from the Nexstar Media Group news/talk station.

A beloved hall of fame broadcaster and Chicago media icon if there ever was one, Samuelson, 86, informed his bosses he’ll bow out at the end of the year.

“December 31st will be my last time on the air at WGN,” Samuelson told me Tuesday. "I don’t know how many broadcasters have been around for 60 or more years, so I don’t know if it’s that much of a milestone." Continue reading

Robservations: Dan McNeil apologizes for 'harsh' tweet — and goes fishing

Dan McNeil (2015 photo)

Robservations on the media beat:

One week after his career crashed and burned over what his bosses called a “degrading and humiliating” tweet, Dan McNeil apologized to the ESPN reporter whose attire he ridiculed. In his first public comment since being canned by Entercom sports/talk WSCR 670-AM, McNeil tweeted: “I apologize, @MariaTaylor, for the harsh critique of your outfit on MNF. Going for a quick laugh, I failed conclusively. Best of luck -- you're terrific. #GoneFishin.” During Taylor’s premiere appearance on “Monday Night Football” September 14, McNeil tweeted: “NFL sideline reporter or a host for the AVN [Adult Video News] annual awards presentation?” He was fired the next day. The longtime Chicago radio personality most recently co-hosted afternoons on The Score with Danny Parkins. No word yet on McNeil's replacement. Continue reading

'News Nation' anchor Joe Donlon lands interview with Trump Tuesday night

Joe Donlon

Will an exclusive White House interview with President Donald Trump help jump-start the ratings for “News Nation”?

Trump has agreed to tape a one-on-one interview Tuesday morning with Joe Donlon, news anchor for the national cable news startup on Chicago-based WGN America. It will be seen on Tuesday night’s “News Nation,” which airs here from 7 to 10 p.m. Continue reading

Robservations: WGN Radio boss Mary Sandberg Boyle gets VP stripes

Mary Sandberg Boyle

Robservations on the media beat:

WGN Radio 720

Mary Sandberg Boyle, the first female general manager in the 96-year history of WGN 720-AM, has been promoted to vice president and general manager of the Nexstar Media Group news/talk station. Sandberg Boyle, who rose from executive producer to director of news and operations to acting general manager in just four years, has been general manager since December. On her watch, WGN has undergone a major realignment of programming and personnel. “Mary has done an outstanding job under less than ideal circumstances,” said Sean Compton, Nexstar executive vice president overseeing WGN Radio. “She is innovative, thoughtful and determined, and she has forged a great working relationship with the staff. She is a respected leader in Chicago media and this promotion is well-deserved.” Sandberg Boyle said: “WGN Radio is the gold standard of radio stations in Chicago and the Midwest, and I am extremely proud to work alongside its talented and dedicated staff. I am grateful to Nexstar for giving me this opportunity and for allowing me to lead this station into the future. WGN Radio’s best days are still ahead of us.” Before joining WGN in 2015, Sandberg Boyle was executive producer of “The Steve Dahl Show” on multiple outlets and exec producer of the morning show at Entercom Top 40 WBBM 96.3-FM. She’s a Chicago native and a graduate of Carmel Catholic High School and the University of Illinois at Chicago. Continue reading