News VP Jennifer Lyons quits NewsNation

Jennifer Lyons

Jennifer Lyons, the eminent Chicago TV news executive who segued from WGN-Channel 9 last year to launch a primetime cable news operation for parent company Nexstar Media Group, has resigned as vice president of news at NewsNation.

Her departure, announced to staff Tuesday by Perry Sook, chairman and CEO of Nexstar Media Group, closely follows the resignations of news director Sandy Pudar and managing editor Richard Maginn. It marks a wholesale exodus of top news management at a time of plummeting morale and nearly invisible ratings for NewsNation. Continue reading

Robservations: ABC 7’s fractured family retains ratings crown for now

ABC 7 Chicago's Cheryl Scott, Alan Krashesky, Cheryl Burton and Mark Giangreco

Robservations on the media beat:

With sports anchor Mark Giangreco on his way out because of an on-air comment about news anchor Cheryl Burton, it's anyone's guess whether the implosion at WLS-Channel 7 and firestorm on social media will affect the ABC-owned station's standing as Chicago's top-rated news source. For now the "Eyewitness News" people are relieved they came through the February sweep intact. Despite year-over-year declines in late news across the market, ABC 7 remained No. 1 in total households and among viewers between 25 and 54 (the key demographic for advertisers) at 4, 5, 6, and 10 p.m., according to Nielsen figures. Giangreco was benched for the entire monthlong rating period and beyond, but the reason for his absence and the role Burton played behind the scenes were not revealed until last week. ABC 7 has been first at 10 p.m. since 1986. Continue reading

Feder flashback: When ABC 7 fired a star sportscaster at the top of his game

Tim Weigel and Mark Giangreco

In a move that stuns his colleagues and angers his fans, an immensely popular sportscaster suddenly finds himself out of a job at Chicago's top-rated television station.

Named in multiple viewer surveys as "Chicago's best sports anchor," he still has more than a year left on his contract when ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7 shoves him out the door without so much as a word of thanks. Continue reading

Robservations: Chicago Star debuts as 'uplifting' monthly newspaper

Chicago Star

Robservations on the media beat:

Candace Jordan

There's a brand new masthead in town. The Chicago Star officially debuted this week as a subscription-based monthly publication with a focus on "uplifting news." (Here is the link.) With an initial distribution of 30,000, it's a combination and expansion of former hyperlocal monthlies New Eastside News and Streeterville News, using artificial intelligence to generate much of its content. "We are thrilled to launch this great resource for Chicago," said Elaine Hyde, publisher and editor of Chicago Star Media. Candace Jordan, the former Chicago Tribune “Candid Candace” columnist, has been named contributing editor of the Chicago Star. Among its advisory board members are Leslie Hindman, Michael Kutza, Sherren Leigh, Sargent McCormick, Maria Pappas, Alexander Pissios, Howard Tullman and Phil Vettel. Continue reading

ABC 7’s Mark Giangreco under fire for ‘ditzy’ remark about Cheryl Burton

Cheryl Burton and Mark Giangreco (Photo: Matt Smith)

Now it can be told: Veteran Chicago sports anchor Mark Giangreco may be on the verge of losing his job at ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7 because he used the word “ditzy” in an on-air comment about news anchor Cheryl Burton.

ABC 7 bosses, Giangreco and his agent continue to stonewall on his unexplained absence for the last five weeks, but multiple sources confirmed Wednesday he’s under fire for a remark at the end of his sports segment January 28. Continue reading

Will Mark Giangreco ever return to ABC 7?

Mark Giangreco

It’s been five weeks since Chicago’s most prominent sports anchor was last seen on the city’s top-rated television station, where he’s been a fixture for 27 years.

But the bosses of ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7 have yet to explain or even acknowledge the absence of Mark Giangreco, leaving viewers in the dark and prompting co-workers to wonder if he’ll ever return. Continue reading

Robservations: iHeartMedia stations pay tribute to 14 'Women Who Win'

Kristen Ziman

Robservations on the media beat:

"Women Who Win 2021"

From the lieutenant governor of Illinois to the police chief of west suburban Aurora, 14 prominent women will be celebrated for their achievements during a monthlong, multiplatform tribute by iHeartMedia Chicago and YWCA Metropolitan Chicago. Coinciding with Women's History Month, "Women Who Win 2021" will feature on-air and digital vignettes on all six iHeartMedia stations, websites and social media. “iHeartMedia Chicago is thrilled to honor these incredible women who have made a profound impact on our community,” said Matt Scarano, president of the station group. Links to the profiles and interviews are posted on the websites of hip-hop WGCI 107.5-FM, R&B WVAZ 102.7-FM, gospel WGRB 1390-AM, adult contemporary WLIT 93.9-FM, rock WCHI 95.5-FM and Top 40 WKSC 103.5-FM. Continue reading

Robservations: NewsNation relaunches tonight — but will anybody notice?

Joe Donlon

Robservations on the media beat:

Six months to the day after WGN America launched a primetime newscast from Chicago, Nexstar Media Group is rebranding the cable network and rolling out three new shows. Entertainment programming still occupies daytime hours, but the whole network is being renamed NewsNation, effective today. Weeknights will now feature "NewsNation Early Edition" with Nichole Berlie at 5 p.m., "The Donlon Report," a mix of news and interviews anchored by Joe Donlon at 6 p.m., a reduced two-hour version of "NewsNation Prime" anchored by Marni Hughes and Rob Nelson at 7 p.m., and "Banfield," a one-on-one interview show hosted by Ashleigh Banfield at 9 p.m. According to Nielsen figures, NewsNation attracted an average of 55,000 viewers from coast to coast in February — down more than 30 percent from its opening month and down more than 75 percent from WGN America's ratings one year ago. NewsNation launched September 1 with a promise to be “100 percent absent of bias,” in the words of Nexstar chairman and CEO Perry Sook. The company did not disclose until February that it had retained former Fox News senior executive Bill Shine as a consultant. Shine also served as White House communications director for former President Donald Trump. Continue reading