WTTW pats itself on the back with ‘Making Sense of 2020’

Brandis Friedman and Paris Schutz

There’s still a full month to go before 2020 is over, but that’s not stopping WTTW-Channel 11 from wrapping it up already. Like everyone else, it seems Chicago's public television station can’t wait for the year to end either.

The result is “Making Sense of 2020,” a retrospective on what veteran news anchor Phil Ponce called “a hellacious year — one jaw-dropping moment after another,” premiering at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. Continue reading

Robservations: Dish Network turns up heat on Nexstar renewal


Robservations on the media beat:

Dish Network

"Nexstar Media Group threatens largest local station blackout in TV history, according to Dish," blared the headline on Dish Network's press release Thursday. It accused the parent company of WGN-Channel 9 and the WGN America cable network of demanding "unreasonable rate increases" and threatening "to blackout its stations from Dish customers to gain negotiation leverage." (Here is the link.) Given Dish’s long history of service interruptions with station groups and networks, it seemed reasonable that Nexstar stations began warning viewers that Dish subscribers might face a service interruption starting Wednesday when Nexstar’s contract with Dish expires. "Despite our tireless efforts, Dish has refused our fair offer and is making negotiations very difficult," Nexstar posted on station websites. "You might have seen them do this before. They will tell you it’s for your benefit, but don’t believe it." (Here is the link.) For what it's worth, the deal Nexstar is seeking is similar to those reached with hundreds of other cable, satellite, and teleco operators without interruptions. Beyond that, it's little more than posturing we've seen so many times before. Continue reading

Robservations: Ryan Chiaverini to fill in on WLS Radio morning show

Ryan Chiaverini

Robservations on the media beat:

Ryan Chiaverini, the amiable co-host of “Windy City Live,” will give talk radio a whirl all next week on WLS 890-AM. Starting Monday, he’ll be the first weeklong fill-in morning host on the Cumulus Media news/talk station until Bruce St. Jamesreplacement for the outgoing Erich Mancow Muller — starts December 14. "I’ve done a lot of radio as a guest on shows over the years — including Mancow many times — but this will be the first time hosting for an entire week," Chiaverini told me. "I have developed a lot of celebrity friendships through 'Windy City Live' so I definitely will have some celebrity guests. I’m also creating some fun radio bits and segments. I’ve always really enjoyed radio and the creative aspect to produce some comedic bits and have the extra time for interviews that you just can’t get on television. I’m not looking forward to waking up at 3:30 a.m., but it’s a great opportunity." Now in his 10th season with co-host Val Warner, Chiaverini continues on “Windy City Live” at 1 p.m. weekdays on ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7. Continue reading

Robservations: ABC 7's Cheryl Scott forecasts Great Lakes in peril

Cheryl Scott

Robservations on the media beat:

ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7 is teaming with National Geographic to produce a five-part series on the fight to save the Great Lakes. ABC 7 meteorologist Cheryl Scott and scientists from National Geographic will present "So Great, So Fragile" on successive Tuesdays, starting this week. Episodes will stream live on ABC 7’s connected TV Apps on Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Apple TV and Roku. "Whether for recreational use or drinking water, Chicagoans know the value of the Great Lakes, but may be unaware of factors threatening them," Scott said. "In our series with National Geographic, we get the chance to dig deeper on everything from climate change to pollution, revealing the impact on one of our greatest natural resources. We also show how we can work together to protect, save and keep our lakes great." Continue reading

Bruce St. James to replace Mancow as morning host on WLS

Bruce St. James

Bruce St. James, who's been a radio talk show host in Phoenix for 10 years, has been tapped to replace Erich Mancow Muller as morning personality at WLS 890-AM.

St. James will join the Cumulus Media news/talk station December 14, according to Marv Nyren, vice president and market manager of Cumulus Media Chicago. Muller's last day on WLS will be Wednesday. Fill-in hosts will substitute in the coming weeks. Continue reading

Robservations: New deal for Lou Manfredini expands WGN Radio show

Lou Manfredini

Robservations on the media beat:

Lou Manfredini, the handyman extraordinaire known as “Mr. Fix It,” will add a fourth hour to his Saturday morning home improvement show on WGN 720-AM under a four-year contract extension announced today with the Nexstar news/talk station. Starting January 2 “HouseSmarts Radio with Lou Manfredini” will air from 6 to 10 a.m. Saturdays. The additional hour coincides with the retirement of agribusiness icon Orion Samuelson, who now hosts a one-hour Saturday morning show with Max Armstrong. ("Outside the Loop Radio with Mike Stephen" will move to 5 a.m. Saturdays.) “We are excited to continue the legacy that Lou has built at WGN Radio the past 25 years,” Mary Sandberg Boyle, vice president and general manager of WGN, said in a statement. “While his media empire looks a lot different now than when he first started here, one thing remains the same: Lou is here to serve the audience. He is patient and kind with every listener, while keeping his genuine sense of humor. He truly is the definition of the ‘helpful hardware man.’” Manfredini was inducted in the WGN Radio Walk of Fame in 2015. Continue reading

WTTW's 'Chicago From the Air' offers thrilling perspective

Geoffrey Baer

Who hasn’t dreamed of soaring like a bird over their surroundings?

Tonight WTTW-Channel 11 makes that timeless wish come true with “Chicago From the Air,” a one-hour special unlike anything you’ve imagined outside of your dreams.

Geoffrey Baer, who's been Chicago’s genial tour guide and unofficial historian at the Window to the World Communications station for more than 25 years, has delivered what may be his most spectacular travelogue yet. Continue reading

Sasha-Ann Simons named host of midday talk show 'Reset' on WBEZ

Sasha-Ann Simons (Photo: Tyrone Turner)

Chicago Public Media news/talk WBEZ 91.5-FM has gone out of Chicago to fill the vacancy for a new host on its locally produced midday talk show.

Sasha-Ann Simons, host and national correspondent at American University’s WAMU in Washington, D.C., will start December 14 as host of “Reset,” the flagship news and talk program airing from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on WBEZ. Continue reading