Robservations: Sun-Times, WBEZ close to partnership deal, sources say

Chicago Sun-Times/WBEZ Chicago

Robservations on the media beat:

Michael Sacks

The Chicago Sun-Times and public radio station WBEZ 91.5-FM would combine ownership under an agreement that could be announced this week, sources said. The board of Chicago Public Media, nonprofit parent company of WBEZ, is expected to vote on the plan in a closed meeting Wednesday night. Board approval is not assured, sources said, and the deal could still fall through. Officials of Chicago Public Media would not respond to requests for comment. Spearheading the proposal is Michael Sacks, the Chicago businessman who’s been principal investor in the Sun-Times since 2019. While continuing to cover the newspaper’s financial losses, Sacks is said to have been looking for a compatible partner to take over the company. Details of the arrangement — including whether the two newsrooms would continue to operate independently — could not be confirmed.

Kristen McQueary

Kristen McQueary, who resigned in June as editorial page editor of the Chicago Tribune, has been hired by Res Publica Group, the Chicago public relations and strategic communications firm, as vice president. McQueary joined the Tribune as columnist and editorial board member in 2012 from Chicago Public Media and the Chicago News Cooperative. Earlier this year her application for a buyout from the Tribune was turned down so she quit. 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.

Frank Sennett

Frank Sennett, director of digital products and strategy at Crain’s Chicago Business and its counterpart publications in New York, Detroit and Cleveland, has been named director of research. In the new role he will help develop, lead and create sales opportunities and products for the four-city unit of Crain Communications. Sennett, an acclaimed journalist, author and former editor of Time Out Chicago and Newcity, joined Crain’s in 2014 as director of digital strategy.

Jim DeRogatis

A deep bow to Jim DeRogatis, the investigative journalist, author and former pop music critic at the Sun-Times, whose two decades of lonely and dogged reporting on R. Kelly culminated this week in the R&B singer’s conviction in federal court in New York on all charges, including racketeering, sex trafficking, bribery and the sexual exploitation of a child. "How many more victims are there who we don’t know about?" DeRogatis wrote in The New Yorker. "This case involved 20 women and two men, but there are likely many more. . . . My biggest question, though, is how the many people Kelly victimized will begin to heal. I recently talked to several victims whose stories I’ve reported over the years, and, while they all said that they were glad to see Kelly finally face consequences for his actions, they also said that his conviction is too little, too late."

Tuesday’s comment of the day: Andrew Herrmann: It wasn't Tom [McNamee] who won the lottery when the Sun-Times hired him. It was the readers. Many probably remember his beautiful writing under his own byline but he is responsible for so many more unsigned editorials (and, truth be told, his polishing of others as an editor and re-write man . . . including some of my own stuff over the years.) As a young reporter you have romantic notions of what a newsroom is going to be like, including the anticipation that it will be filled with characters . . . great writers, deep thinkers, witty people, strong leaders. Tom was, and still is, all that.