Robservations: Weigel partners with Block Club Chicago on weekly newsmagazine; jobs open at Time Out Chicago, Kiss FM

Brandon Pope

Robservations on the media beat:

In the latest Chicago media partnership, Weigel Broadcasting and Block Club Chicago are joining forces to launch an innovative weekly newsmagazine show. Starting in April, "On the Block" will bring to life stories from the award-winning nonprofit neighborhood news site. The half-hour show will air multiple times each week on CW affiliate WCIU-Channel 26, WMEU-Channel 48.1 and MeTV Chicago. “Social media has a played an important role in how people access the news, and with ‘On the Block’ we are taking some of the visually compelling themes and amplifying those for television. You won’t see any anchors reading copy behind a desk,” said Afua Owusu, director of news and local content for CW26 and The U. Brandon Pope, who's been a reporter for The U since 2017, will host “On the Block” with stories from Jon Hansen and Block Club reporters. Hansen also will serve as coordinating producer for the show and continue to host Block Club’s "It’s All Good” podcast. “Block Club prides itself on telling a wide range of unique stories from all over the city, including for people often ignored by legacy media,” said Shamus Toomey, publisher and co-founder of Block Club. “We are absolutely thrilled to team up with Weigel Broadcasting and get these stories out to a wider audience.” Continue reading

At top-rated WGN Morning News, Lauren Jiggetts enjoys 'freedom to be myself'

Lauren Jiggetts

Long before Lauren Jiggetts joined WGN-Channel 9 to anchor its top-rated morning news show, she already qualified as one of "Chicago's Very Own."

As the daughter of Dan Jiggetts, former Chicago Bears offensive tackle and one of the founding fathers of sports/talk WSCR 670-AM, she grew up in north suburban Long Grove and began making a name for herself at Stevenson High School.

Even then she was one to watch. Continue reading

Robservations: WGN legend Merri Dee dies at 85; WBBM Newsradio promotes editor Zac Weber; Linda Lutton takes leave from WBEZ

Merri Dee (Photo: Heidi Zeiger)

Robservations on the media beat:

Merri Dee is being remembered as an inspirational and groundbreaking broadcaster whose name was synonymous with "Chicago's Very Own" WGN-Channel 9 for generations. The retired staff announcer and director of community relations died in her sleep at home Wednesday, according to family. She was 85. Before joining WGN, where she worked from 1972 to 2008, Dee hosted talk shows for south suburban WBEE Radio and independent TV stations WCIU-Channel 26 and WSNS-Channel 44. "Merri Dee was a homegrown broadcasting legend whose time as an anchor and radio and talk show host made her a beloved local celebrity," Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a statement. She added that Dee "truly made a positive and indelible mark on our city and inspired countless others to follow in her footsteps." In 1996 Dee was inducted in the Silver Circle of the Chicago/Midwest chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, and in 2011 she was inducted in the National Association of Black Journalists Hall of Fame. Her memoir, Life Lessons On Faith, Forgiveness & Grace, was published in 2013. Continue reading

Broadcast technicians go on strike at WTTW

Window to the World Communications

Broadcast technicians and other employees at WTTW-Channel 11 went on strike Wednesday at the Window to the World Communications public television station shortly before the start of the nightly news program "Chicago Tonight."

Local Union 1220 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, representing more than two dozen technicians, graphic artists and floor crew members, announced the walkout at 6 p.m.

WTTW aired a “Best of Chicago Tonight” rerun in place of a live broadcast at 7 p.m. Continue reading

B96 imports four-member cast of 'The Morning Mess' from Phoenix

"The Morning Mess" cast Aneesh Ratan, Jeana Shepard, Joey Rodriguez and Karla Hernandez (Photo: Audacy)

Years of underperforming ratings and a revolving door of talent at Chicago’s Top 40 WBBM 96.3-FM have led parent company Audacy to import a new morning show straight from its Top 40 station in Phoenix.

Four personalities from Phoenix's KALV — known collectively as “The Morning Mess” — are moving to Chicago to broadcast live from B96, Audacy announced Wednesday. They'll start on the air the week of April 4. Continue reading

Robservations: Joe Donlon quits NewsNation; Marquee adds Cliff Floyd, Cameron Maybin to Cubs coverage

Joe Donlon

Robservations on the media beat:

Nice guy Joe Donlon had it made as the No. 1 news anchor at WGN-Channel 9 when he took a flier on NewsNation, the Chicago-based cable news startup launched by parent company Nexstar Media Group in 2020. Overcoming a rocky start, he’s been hosting “The Donlon Report,” a news and talk show airing at 6 p.m. weeknights, for the past year. Now he’s calling it quits. Donlon’s last show will air March 25. “It has been an honor to occupy this seat for the past year,” he said in a statement. “Not many people get to host a national show like this, and I will always appreciate the opportunity. I have learned more than I ever could have imagined. I want to thank the incredible team at ‘The Donlon Report’ for all their hard work. I have the utmost respect for what everyone at NewsNation is trying to accomplish, and I wish my friends there nothing but the best moving forward.” Donlon is the third of four original on-air hires to bail out of NewsNation, following news anchor Rob Nelson and meteorologist Albert Ramon. The fourth, Marni Hughes, continues to anchor “NewsNation Prime.” Continue reading

As ‘Judge Jerry’ adjourns, what's Springer's next role?

Jerry Springer (Photo: NBCUniversal Syndication Studios)

The news that NBCUniversal Syndication Studios will cease production of Jerry Springer's daytime court show at the end of its third season has TV industry watchers wondering what the longtime host will do when he hangs up his robe for good.

Springer has been hosting "Judge Jerry" since 2019, adjudicating cases filed in small-claims courts around the country from a courtroom studio in Stamford, Connecticut.

Drawing on his 1968 Northwestern law degree, the series followed his 27-year run as ringmaster of "The Jerry Springer Show," the raucous daytime talk show that made him famous. Continue reading

Bob Ramsey 1957-2022

Bob Ramsey

As an experienced TV programmer, manager and executive, Bob Ramsey left an indelible mark on two Chicago broadcasting companies and on colleagues who remember him with "love, respect and affection."

Ramsey, who was 65, died Tuesday at Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, California. He succumbed to complications while awaiting a liver transplant, according to friends.

Before he retired — first to Palm Springs and later to Mexico — Ramsey held senior management jobs at Weigel Broadcasting Co. and the former Tribune Co., then owner of WGN-Channel 9. Continue reading

Daily Herald promotes Lisa Miner, Jim Slusher to managing editor roles

Lisa Miner and Jim Slusher

Seasoned journalists and longtime newsroom leaders Lisa Miner and Jim Slusher have been promoted to managing editor roles at the Daily Herald.

Miner was named managing editor and Slusher was named managing editor for administration and opinion, effective immediately.

Both moves were announced Thursday by Jim Baumann, executive editor of the Daily Herald. Before he succeeded John Lampinen in December, Baumann had been managing editor since 2012. Lampinen retired in December after 48 years with the newspaper, including two decades as top editor. Continue reading

Robservations: Mayor proclaims 'Les Grobstein Day in Chicago'; ESPN 1000 debuts basketball shows; Aly Brumback joins Crain's Chicago Business

Les Grobstein

Robservations on the media beat:

Les Grobstein would have celebrated his 70th birthday this Friday. To honor the incomparable Chicago radio sportscaster who died in January, Mayor Lori Lightfoot this week officially proclaimed March 11 "Les Grobstein Day in Chicago." (Here is the link.) The tribute recalls that Grobstein "was known as a walking sports encyclopedia who had an ironclad memory of even the smallest details and who equally loved all Chicago sports from high school, college, professional and everything in between." It even mentions Grobstein’s historic role in recording Lee Elia’s infamous eruption at Wrigley Field in 1983. Capping a legendary 50-year career in his hometown, "The Grobber" hosted overnights on Audacy sports/talk WSCR 670-AM. Continue reading