Robservations: On balance, ‘News Nation’ gets off to promising start

"News Nation" (from left): Albert Ramon, Joe Donlon, Marni Hughes and Rob Nelson

Robservations on the media beat:

The premiere of WGN America’s “News Nation” Tuesday night came off smoothly, with news anchors Joe Donlon, Marni Hughes and Rob Nelson displaying an easygoing rapport belying the fact they’d never worked together before. At times the three-hour production from Chicago came off as a fast-paced national headline service, but more often seemed like a local newscast on steroids. As expected, Nexstar Media Group’s stations around the country provided much of the content — including stories of limited interest outside their immediate area. The same can be said of meteorologist Albert Ramon’s frequent reports, which rarely focused outside of severe weather in the Texas region. President Donald Trump’s visit to Kenosha earlier in the day provided an opportunity to showcase political reporter Dean Reynolds in studio and reporter Rudabeh Shahbazi (who doubles as weekend anchor) on the scene. It remains to be seen whether “News Nation” will live up to its lofty promise of objectivity in the long run, but it’s off to a good start. For now it would do well to deliver the goods and can the hype — including the overworked, self-serving mantra: “We’re bringing you balance not bias.” That made me cringe every time.

Charlie Kirk

Charlie Kirk, the grassroots conservative activist who grew up in Prospect Heights, is joining the lineup of WIND 560-AM, the Salem Media news/talk station. Starting October 5, one hour of his new syndicated talk show will air at 11 a.m. weekdays on WIND. (To accommodate the addition, Dennis Prager will lose an hour, airing from noon to 2 p.m.) Kirk, a 26-year-old author, podcaster and founder of Turning Point USA, signed with Salem Radio Network to host a national talk show Tuesday. “I grew up listening to conservative talk radio, so I’m excited to bring a new generation’s voice to the medium and I'm thrilled to work with SRN to do that,” Kirk said. “It’s time to work. The country is in trouble and we have to save it.”

WLS 890 AM

With the demise of Westwood One’s news operation, news/talk WLS 890-AM has turned to ABC Audio as a news affiliate. It was one of 29 Cumulus Media stations Tuesday to pick up the service, which includes hourly newscasts. “Through this partnership, our unmatched reporting, including crisis coverage, breaking news and special programming, will reach new listeners and help ABC Audio continue to be the best in the business,” said Heidi Oringer, executive director of business strategies, programming and distribution at ABC Audio.

NBC Sports Chicago

NBC Sports Chicago launched a dazzling new website Tuesday featuring easier access to live streaming. (Here is the link.) Unveiled with new sites for the five other NBC Sports regional networks, it's designed to deliver "enhanced and innovative user experiences through visually engaging presentations, team-focused multimedia formats, and increased utility, functionality, navigation and discoverability." Said David Preschlack, president of NBC Sports Regional Networks: “With our new sites, combined with the MyTeams app, we are well positioned to exceed fans’ evolving expectations and preferences, and deliver an excellent user experience across every platform.”

Tuesday’s comment of the day: Jack Taddeo: I do wish Sean [Compton] and the great news team at WGN all the best with their new organization. I'm not sure the tweet isn't just what it looks like from the President — a congratulatory note to a guy he knows. Let's judge “News Nation” on its own output. Another news source is a good thing.