Robservations: WGN's Dan Roan apologizes for calling player 'thug'

Dan Roan

Robservations on the media beat:

One reason Dan Roan has lasted 37 years as a sports anchor at Nexstar Media Group WGN-Channel 9 is that he's studiously avoided controversy. But now he's been forced to walk back a comment that blew up on social media Thursday. In a post since deleted, Roan tweeted: “Bad news from Champaign on Ayo Donsunmu, nose broken by Spartan thug on Tuesday . . . no word on how long he’ll be out.” It apparently referred to Michigan State center Mady Sissoko, who was charged with a flagrant two foul and ejected from the game against the Fighting Illini. Roan immediately came under blistering attack for use of the word “thug,” prompting this followup tweet: “Just made aware of some issues with an earlier tweet — I used too strong a word and I apologize to the MSU player in question and to any who may have been offended by this. Not aware in any way that the word had any racial connotation to it — that’s not me, never has been.” Continue reading

Robservations: Talk radio host Dan Proft ends brief run in syndication

Dan Proft

Robservations on the media beat:

A little more than a year after he took over the syndicated evening show vacated by Joe Walsh, Chicago radio personality Dan Proft is closing out his run as a national talk show host for Salem Radio Network. Phil Boyce, senior vice president of Salem Media Group, confirmed Proft’s final show for the conservative talk network will air March 5. "Dan and I both decided that he might have a bigger impact nationally by moving the show into the podcast arena," he said. Proft has been offered a slot with Salem Podcast Network, but no agreement has been reached, according to Boyce. Proft continues to co-host mornings with Amy Jacobson on WIND 560-AM, Salem's news/talk station here. Continue reading

Chicago radio ratings: WBBM, WBEZ come roaring back with news

Mary Dixon

Coming off two months dominated by "The Holiday Lite" Christmas music on iHeartMedia adult contemporary WLIT 93.9-FM, radio listenership surged for Chicago’s leading news stations in the latest Nielsen Audio survey.

WBBM 780-AM/WCFS 105.9-FM, the Entercom all-news combo, returned to the top spot overall for the first time since August, according to figures released Tuesday. WBBM Newsradio also led in middays with Cisco Cotto and afternoons with Keith Johnson and Lisa Fielding. Continue reading

Robservations: Peacock docuseries takes new look at John Wayne Gacy

"John Wayne Gacy: Devil in Disguise"

Robservations on the media beat:

Alison True

A new six-part documentary series produced by NBC News Studios reexamines the case of John Wayne Gacy, the serial killer who buried the bodies of dozens of his victims in the crawl space of his Norwood Park Township home. “John Wayne Gacy: Devil in Disguise” will premiere March 25 on Peacock, the premium video streaming service of NBCUniversal. (Here is the trailer.) Executive consultant is Chicago journalist Alison True, a former editor of the Chicago Reader, who has spent 10 years challenging the thoroughness of the official Gacy investigation and writing a book about it. “I'm not obsessed with Gacy or serial murder, I'm obsessed with who gets to say what happened to people (in this case law enforcement), and how important it is to find and listen and hear what other people say, especially when they contradict an official story,” True wrote on Facebook. Gacy, convicted in 1980 of murdering 33 young men and boys, was executed in 1994. Continue reading

ABC 7 cuts Janet Davies as host, entertainment reporter

Janet Davies

After nearly four decades as arts and entertainment reporter, program host and the face of New Year's Eve on Chicago television, Janet Davies has parted company with ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7.

Davies announced the news in a Facebook post Friday. She confirmed in a text message that she would not be back as host of ABC 7's New Year's Eve countdown this year.

“It has been an honor and a joy to have worked at 190 North State Street for 37 years,” Davies wrote, referring to the Loop studios of ABC 7. “To have had such breadth and depth in a broadcasting career is humbling. Many at the station have been dear colleagues for years and working with them always made me better. Chicago viewers are kind, enlightening and their stories will forever have meaning and import.” Continue reading

First-time producer Deborah Norville finds moviemaking 'really appealing'

Deborah Norville

Now you can add movie mogul to Deborah Norville’s list of credits. The former Chicago TV news anchor and longtime host of “Inside Edition” is executive producer of the latest true-crime film on the Lifetime network.

“The Long Island Serial Killer: A Mother’s Hunt for Justice,” the 400th movie in Lifetime's “Ripped From the Headlines” series, premieres at 7 p.m. Saturday. (Here is the link to the trailer.) Continue reading

Robservations: Future of WLS 890 AM up in the air without Rush Limbaugh

Rush Limbaugh

Robservations on the media beat:

The death of talk radio giant Rush Limbaugh Wednesday leaves Cumulus Media news/talk WLS 890-AM without its most potent personality — and without a designated replacement. "Rush Limbaugh was one of the most powerful voices in American radio and he called The Big 89 his Chicago home for over 25 years," said Marv Nyren, vice president and market manager of Cumulus Media Chicago. "He will be missed by millions." WLS will air "Best of Rush" segments with guest hosts for now. A key to the future of the station's conservative talk format will be whether Cumulus forces WLS to replace Limbaugh with another syndicated program or allows the station to fill the slot from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays with a local host. In the latest Nielsen Audio survey, WLS tied for 10th place in middays with a 3.1 percent share and cumulative weekly audience of 178,000. Continue reading

WTTW fires news director Hugo Balta after staff erupts over social media

Hugo Balta

Hugo Balta was forced out Tuesday as news director of WTTW-Channel 11 and executive producer of “Chicago Tonight” following a staff uprising over his use of social media to express personal views.

“I am writing to let you know that Hugo Balta is no longer with the organization,” Sandra Cordova Micek, president and CEO of Window to the World Communications, told employees in a terse internal email.

Notably absent from Micek's message were any of the usual good wishes for the senior executive she'd called "uniquely qualified" to lead WTTW News when she hired Balta one year ago.

Continue reading

Hedge fund Alden Global Capital to buy Tribune Publishing for $630 million

Chicago Tribune

Alden Global Capital, the New York-based hedge fund known for bleeding newspapers dry, has reached agreement to buy the parent company of the Chicago Tribune in a deal valued at $630 million.

Chicago-based Tribune Publishing announced Tuesday that it has accepted Alden's bid to acquire the 68 percent of company shares it does not already own. Pending approval from shareholders and regulatory approval, the sale is expected to close in the second quarter.

In addition to the Chicago Tribune, the deal includes the New York Daily News, Hartford Courant, South Florida's Sun Sentinel and Orlando Sentinel, Virginia's Daily Press and The Virginian-Pilot, and The Morning Call of Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania. The Baltimore Sun will be sold to Sunlight for All Institute, a public charity. Continue reading