Robservations: New WBEZ content chief wins Sulzberger Fellowship

Tracy Brown

Robservations on the media beat:

Tracy Brown, who joined WBEZ 91.5-FM as managing editor in 2019 and was promoted to chief content officer of the Chicago Public Media news/talk station in April, has been named a 2021 Sulzberger Executive Leadership Program Fellow at Columbia University in New York. Endowed by the Sulzberger family to honor the late New York Times publisher Arthur Ochs “Punch” Sulzberger, the program is designed to train leaders of news organizations and media start-ups to innovate and solve business challenges. After two weeks at Columbia Journalism School fellows spend the next 18 weeks back at their organizations before returning for a final week at Columbia. Brown's project will be to accelerate a strategic plan "to grow [a] younger and more diverse audience with new editorial products." Continue reading

NewsNation expands with Dan Abrams talk show and 'Morning in America'

Dan Abrams

Dan Abrams, chief legal affairs anchor for ABC News, will host a one-hour primetime talk show for NewsNation, Nexstar Media’s Chicago-based cable news network, starting in September.

The debut of “Dan Abrams Live,” airing from 7 to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, was announced today along with the launch of “Morning in America," to be anchored from 6 to 9 a.m. weekdays by Adrienne Bankert. Continue reading

Robservations: WGN drops 'Chicago's Best,' expands 'GN Sports' to weekends

Elliott Bambrough and Marley Kayden

Robservations on the media beat:

Chicago's Best

Say goodbye to "Chicago’s Best," the delicious Sunday night food show on WGN-Channel 9. Co-hosted by Elliott Bambrough and Marley Kayden, it's been a weekly treat on WGN (and the former CLTV) since its launch in 2010 with original co-hosts Brittney Payton and Ted Brunson. The cancellation, announced Thursday, coincides with the Nexstar Media station's expansion of "GN Sports" to Saturdays and Sundays starting August 14. With the weekend additions, the sports highlights show will air seven nights a week at 10:30 p.m. A statement from management acknowledged "Chicago's Best" won many awards and "brought viewers into some of the most interesting restaurants in Chicago," adding: "We’d like to thank Elliott, Marley and the team that has worked so passionately on the show for so many years." WGN also announced plans for "Daytime Chicago," a locally produced magazine show to air at 10 a.m. weekdays, starting this fall. The syndicated talk show "Rachael Ray" is expected to move to afternoons. Continue reading

Vice documentary recalls when Chicago plumbed the depths of trash TV

Robert Feder

Chicagoans are justifiably proud of their role in propelling Oprah Winfrey to national stardom and serving as hometown boosters of her phenomenally popular and socially conscious talk show for more than 25 years.

But many of us would prefer to forget a more shameful side of Chicago’s recent past as the daytime talk show capital of America. For the better part of a decade the city also was an incubator for the worst excesses of trash TV — from mindlessness to mayhem — culminating in an off-screen murder of one guest by another. Continue reading

CBS 2 hires sports anchor Marshall Harris from Sacramento

Marshall Harris

Nearly two years after WBBM-Channel 2 reassigned Ryan Baker to morning news anchor, the CBS-owned station finally got around to hiring his replacement as main sports anchor and sports director.

Marshall Harris, just in from CBS-owned KOVR in Sacramento, California, officially joined CBS 2 Monday. He's expected to start on the 5, 6 and 10 p.m. weekday newscasts sometime this week. Continue reading

Robservations: Meteorologist Tim McGill joins Fox 32 weather front

Tim McGill

Robservations on the media beat:

Veteran Chicago meteorologist Tim McGill debuted over the weekend on Fox-owned WFLD-Channel 32 as a freelance forecaster. He’s expected to appear regularly over the coming months. Fox 32 parted company in February with Bill Bellis after 10 years as chief meteorologist. Mike Caplan, Kaitlin Cody and Mark Strehl continue on the station’s weather team. McGill, who holds degrees from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Northern Illinois University, had a 28-year run at CLTV and WGN-Channel 9 before Nexstar Media Group pulled the plug on CLTV at the end of 2019. For the past year he filled in at CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2. "Trust me when I say I'm not trying to set the record for appearing as a meteorologist on as many channels as possible in Chicago," McGill wrote on "I'm hoping this will be my last stop. I'm grateful they are giving me a chance to do what I love — and that is telling you all about the weather in a city that I love." The move reunites McGill with Fox 32 news director Matt Piacente, who earlier worked as a producer at CLTV. Continue reading

Robservations: Former TV reporter César Rodríguez headed for City Hall

César Rodríguez

Robservations on the media beat:

César Rodríguez, a former reporter for two Chicago TV stations, soon may have a new job at City Hall. Sources said Rodríguez is expected to join the press office of Mayor Lori Lightfoot under communications director Kate LeFurgy. The position of press secretary has been vacant since Anel Ruiz stepped down in December. For six years Rodríguez worked as a general-assignment news reporter and sports anchor at WSNS-Channel 44, the Telemundo Spanish-language station. He later served as a per diem reporter at CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2 for about a year. Most recently he was a freelance correspondent for The E.W. Scripps Company. The journalism graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign began his career in public relations with the Chicago firm of David Cordova and Associates.

Friday afternoon update: The mayor's office confirmed Rodríguez's appointment as press secretary.

Continue reading

Robservations: 'La Ley' staffers vote to drop union representation

La Ley 107.9

Robservations on the media beat:

Employees of WLEY 107.9-FM, the Spanish-language regional Mexican station known as "La Ley," have voted to decertify Screen Actors Guild/American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) as their representative. Since 2018 Miami-based parent company Spanish Broadcasting System had been negotiating on an initial collective bargaining agreement with the union, but no agreement was reached. The decertification vote was confirmed June 28 by the National Labor Relations Board. "We greatly respect the important decision made by our employees to move forward without a union to act as intermediary between them and the company in the resolution of personnel matters at our Chicago facilities," said Richard Lara, general counsel for SBS. "The company looks forward to working more directly with our employees to build an even stronger presence in Chicago with our unique branded entertainment in this important market." Continue reading