Chicago Tribune theater critic Chris Jones named editorial page editor

Chris Jones (Photo: Chicago Tonight/WTTW)

After two decades as theater critic of the Chicago Tribune Chris Jones was named editorial page editor Wednesday. But he said he still plans to review “the major shows” for the newspaper.

The unorthodox move, as first reported here, comes amid staff upheaval following the exodus of more than 40 journalists who accepted buyouts from the Tribune’s new owners, New York-based hedge fund Alden Global Capital. Continue reading

Robservations: Buyout or not, Kristen McQueary quits Chicago Tribune

Kristen McQueary (Photo: Chicago Tonight/WTTW)

Robservations on the media beat:

The buyouts may be over but the bleeding hasn't stopped for the Chicago Tribune. On Tuesday Kristen McQueary, editor of the Tribune's editorial page, announced that she's quitting too. "After nine years on the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board and page editor since March of last year, Friday will be my last day at the paper," McQueary tweeted. "I applied for the buyout, but my application was not accepted. I'll be pursuing other opportunities. Stay tuned!" It's not known why McQueary's buyout bid was rejected but her departure leaves the Tribune minus another stellar talent. "To be sure, she and I differ on quite a few issues, but I have no doubt of her integrity and her heart," newly departed Tribune columnist Eric Zorn said of McQueary. "She ran the Edit Board with grace, energy and humor during a very difficult year and has the affection and appreciation of the liberals, the moderates and the conservatives whom she supervised." McQueary joined the Tribune in 2012 from Chicago Public Media and the Chicago News Cooperative. The Rockford native and graduate of Illinois State University and the University of Illinois at Springfield previously worked for the Daily Southtown and Peoria Journal Star.

Chris Jones

With much of the Chicago Tribune newsroom already being gutted under the new management of Alden Global Capital, it's all hands on deck these days. In a surprise plot twist, Chris Jones, who's been the Tribune's esteemed theater critic for 20 years, is the favorite to replace McQueary as editorial page editor, sources say. It's hard to imagine Jones bowing out as Chicago's preeminent drama critic just when theaters are opening again. But it's been hard to imagine a lot these days. Come to think of it, other than making money and wrecking newspapers, does Alden Global Capital even have an editorial philosophy? Continue reading

WGN Radio Walk of Fame takes an eerie detour to the suburbs

WGN Radio Walk of Fame — 2021

Whatever happened to the WGN Radio Walk of Fame?

It all started in 2014 as a promotional gimmick devised by radio impresario Jimmy deCastro. Plaques honoring dozens of current and former personalities were embedded in the pavement outside the showcase studio of WGN 720-AM at the hallowed Tribune Tower, 435 North Michigan Avenue.

From legendary WGN morning stars Wally Phillips and Bob Collins to “Flying Officer” Leonard Frank Baldy and "Tenpin Tattler" Sam Weinstein, their unique contributions to the history and heritage of the news/talk station were to be honored for the ages. Continue reading

Robservations: It's 'a blessing' to host Inspiration 1390 for DeAndre Patterson

DeAndre Patterson

Robservations on the media beat:

There's a new afternoon voice on Chicago's Inspiration 1390. DeAndre Patterson, a gospel songwriter, recording artist and pastor of two area congregations, today steps up to permanent host from 2 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday on iHeartMedia gospel WGRB 1390-AM. He's been filling in since Marcella Jones left in March. “DeAndre Patterson is the perfect fit to host afternoons on Inspiration 1390,” program director Sonya Blakey said in a statement. “He has built a solid reputation as a trusted voice in music and ministry in Chicago.” Pastor of Destiny Worship Center on the West Side and Miracle Revival Cathedral Church in west suburban Maywood, he'll continue to host “Old School Gospel Hits" from 1 to 6 p.m. Saturdays on Inspiration 1390. Said Patterson: “It’s a blessing to join the weekday lineup.” Continue reading

Robservations: 'Totally pumped' John Kass off and running with new blog

John Kass

Robservations on the media beat:

In the week since he launched his independent website at former Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass says he's already picked up 35,000 email subscribers. Asked whether he'll try to monetize it through selling advertising or charging for subscriptions, Kass told Sun-Times City Hall reporter Fran Spielman in a podcast interview: “That will be determined, but I assume it will be some hybrid of both.” (Here is the link.) "When you go into business for yourself, it’s exhilarating and exciting. I’m totally pumped for it." Kass, who turns 65 today, was among about 40 journalists to exit the Tribune in the current round of buyouts. The onetime radio host also hinted at a future on the air: “I’m in meetings now with various broadcast entities to continue talking to people in Chicago,” he said. “I think they might want to hear what I have to say.” Spielman, razor sharp and still at the top of her game, pressed Kass on how it felt to be “stabbed in the back” by some of his Tribune colleagues, who publicly accused him of invoking an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory in a column and challenged him on other issues. “I think what happened generally is that clearly I offered a dissenting voice. I am conservative,” Kass said. “I can’t speak to the minds of those who disparaged me and defamed me, but I think that they didn’t like the fact that I refused to join the union. They repeatedly asked me to join. So they defamed me. . . . I wasn’t happy about it. But, you know, we move on. So I moved on.” Continue reading

Chicago magazine taps Tribune's Amy Carr as new editor

Amy Carr

It's anyone's guess how long Chicago magazine will remain in Alden Global Capital's local portfolio, but for now the venerable city monthly has a new editor.

Amy Carr, who stepped down after eight years as a top features editor at the Chicago Tribune, is back in the fold as editor of Chicago magazine. Both publications are owned by the New York-based hedge fund that acquired Tribune Publishing last month.

In a statement posted Wednesday Carr said she applied for "but didn't ultimately accept" a buyout as planned. "I was preparing for a summer of finding my next chapter," she wrote. "Instead, my next chapter found me, and it's an incredible one." Continue reading

Former Tribune editor Gerry Kern still cheering for paper's success

Gerry Kern

As top editor of the Chicago Tribune for eight tumultuous years, Gerry Kern led the city's premier legacy news organization through a protracted bankruptcy, a major downsizing of staff and a solid commitment to local news, investigative reporting and digital advancement.

Now, five years after he retired, Kern, 71, is watching from the sidelines as 40 more journalists — including many of the paper's marquee stars — exit with buyout packages from the company's new hedge fund owners. In the words of current Tribune editor Colin McMahon, it represents "a tremendous loss of talent, passion and grit." Continue reading

Robservations: Phil Rosenthal exits Tribune for 'thrilling, terrifying' future

Phil Rosenthal

Robservations on the media beat:

Another reason to read the Chicago Tribune will walk out the door Friday when Phil Rosenthal signs off after 16 years of outstanding work in three high-profile roles. "You can add me to the too-long list of people announcing they have taken a buyout and will be leaving the Chicago Tribune this week," Rosenthal, 57, told social media followers Monday. (Here is the link.) "It was a tough decision. It's been a privilege to work there, and I value every one of you in the audience." Rosenthal served as media columnist, business columnist and most recently sports columnist since he joined the Tribune in 2005. He previously spent nine years as a sports columnist and TV critic at the Sun-Times. Through it all he's been a formidable competitor and a gracious colleague. The Chicago native and graduate of the University of Wisconsin–Madison also worked at the Los Angeles Daily News, Capital Times of Madison, Wisconsin, and Waukegan News Sun. "It's possible I haven't yet contemplated what I will wind up doing," Rosenthal wrote. "When I was chair of the UW-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication's Board of Visitors, I noticed alums had held an array of jobs, including big city mayor, Hollywood producer, White Sox announcer, lawyers and much more. To be clear, I've no intention to run for mayor or becoming a lawyer. But it is both thrilling and terrifying to have so many possibilities for my future, which was unlikely to be free of anxiety regardless of whether I stayed or left." Continue reading

Robservations: Dahleen Glanton, Shannon Ryan announce Tribune buyouts

Dahleen Glanton

Robservations on the media beat:

On the day the Chicago Tribune published farewell columns from John Kass, Mary Schmich and Heidi Stevens, another star columnist announced her impending departure. Dahleen Glanton, who brought a thoughtful perspective on issues of race, poverty, violence and social justice to Tribune readers, told social media followers Sunday that she's leaving at week's end after taking a buyout offer from new owner Alden Global Capital. "This was a bittersweet decision, but I know it is the correct one," she wrote, telling followers: "You have been my greatest support system, reading my columns regularly, commenting on them and sharing them." Glanton, who grew up in Georgia and graduated from the University of Georgia, joined the Tribune in 1989 from the Los Angeles Times. Before being named a columnist she served as associate metro editor and Atlanta bureau chief.

Shannon Ryan

In January Shannon Ryan became the first woman to be named Illinois Sportswriter of the Year by the National Sports Media Association. Now she's leaving the Chicago Tribune too. The veteran sports reporter, whose beats included college football and basketball, announced she's also taking a buyout. "A tough decision, but I will be among those leaving the Tribune," she tweeted. "Another update on my future soon. Beyond thankful to have worked with such gifted, driven and passionate reporters during my time with @ChicagoSports." A graduate of Saint Mary's College, Ryan was a sports reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer before joining the Tribune in 2007. Continue reading