WGN names Chris Boden, Kaitlin Sharkey full-time sports anchors

Chris Boden and Kaitlin Sharkey

It's no surprise WGN-Channel 9 waited until Dan Roan retired to announce his successor as sports anchor. But in an unexpected twist, the Nexstar Media station appears to be hedging its bet on who'll get top billing.

Chris Boden, the veteran Chicago sportscaster who's been filling in at WGN since last August, and Kaitlin Sharkey, the former sports anchor and Chicago Bears reporter at Fox-owned WFLD-Channel 32, were named full-time sports anchor/reporters Tuesday. Continue reading

Robservations: Another clean sweep for ABC 7 news; Police seek gunman in Fox 32 live shot; Crain's adds Justin Laurence to politics beat

Alan Krashesky and Cheryl Burton (Photo: ABC 7 Chicago)

Robservations on the media beat:

Overall viewership of Chicago's 10 p.m. newscasts declined nearly 14 percent from last year, according to preliminary results of the just-finished May sweep. Ratings fell for every station, but Nielsen figures showed ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7 maintaining its historic lead across the board in all afternoon and evening news time periods. At 10 p.m. Monday through Friday, ABC 7 drew 172,589 households, followed by NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5 (117,230 households), CBS-owned WBBM Channel 2 and Nexstar Media WGN-Channel 9 (each with 71,640 households), Univision WGBO-Channel 66 (52,102 households) and Telemundo WSNS-Channel 44 (19,538 households). “Once again the ABC 7 news team, both on and off air, did an outstanding job," John Idler, president and general manager of ABC 7, said in a statement. "Our decades-long winning streak continues to be a source of pride."

WGN had its own success story in May, extending its morning news winning streak in total audience and among viewers between 25 and 54 — the key demographic for advertising. Meanwhile, at 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, WGN led with 113,974 households, followed by Fox-owned WFLD-Channel 32 with 45,589 households. Continue reading

Second-generation journalist Maddy Wierus comes home to CBS News

Jeff Wierus and Maddy Wierus

Along with the Ponce, Holt, Volkman and Jiggetts dynasties it's time to add a new name to the list of Chicago's multigenerational media families.

Maddy Wierus, 26, who grew up in Orland Park and graduated from Illinois State University, has joined the Chicago bureau of CBS News as a digital journalist and associate producer. She'll work with correspondent Adriana Diaz covering the Midwest and beyond.

Her father, Jeff Wierus, has been an award-winning TV photojournalist in Chicago for 33 years — including the last 29 as a sports and news cameraman for Fox-owned WFLD-Channel 32. Continue reading

Richard Milne resigns as WXRT morning host to care for ailing wife

Richard Milne

Richard Milne, a 36-year veteran of WXRT 93.1-FM, has resigned as morning host at the Audacy adult album alternative station to care for his ailing wife.

Milne told colleagues in an email his last day on the air will be June 10. He left the door open for a possible return, but said his full attention would be on his wife, Charlene Milne, who has frontotemporal dementia. She has been in hospice care since April.

"It’s long been my intention to be with Charlene through every moment of our remaining time together," he wrote. "Sadly, the end is coming more quickly than I ever would have guessed and now is the time for me to fully step away." Continue reading

Robservations: Laura Washington moves to Chicago Tribune; Becky Vevea joins Chalkbeat Chicago; WGN sports anchor Dan Roan calls it a career

Laura Washington

Robservations on the media beat:

Laura Washington, one of Chicago's most prominent and respected political commentators, is leaving the Sun-Times after more than 20 years to write for the Chicago Tribune. Starting June 6, her weekly column will appear in the Tribune's opinion section, according to editorial page editor Chris Jones. Saying she's had a "fabulous run" at the Sun-Times, Washington told me: "I have a lot of love and admiration for my Sun-Times friends and colleagues, and I wish them all the best. Now is a great time for me to pursue exciting new opportunities and challenges. That's why I am thrilled to bring my writing and reporting on politics, race and urban issues to the Chicago Tribune’s opinion pages." Washington, who was raised on Chicago's South Side and graduated from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, worked earlier as deputy press secretary to Mayor Harold Washington and as editor and publisher of The Chicago Reporter. She continues as political analyst for ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7. Continue reading

Robservations: Editor Karen Hawkins leaving Chicago Reader; NPR quiz show moves to Studebaker Theater; Matt McGill returns to WVON

Karen Hawkins

Robservations on the media beat:

Tracy Baim

Now that the transition of the Chicago Reader to nonprofit ownership has been finalized under the Reader Institute for Community Journalism, there's a change in editorial leadership at the 50-year-old alternative publication. Karen Hawkins is leaving as co-publisher and editor-in-chief of the Reader to become story editor for The 19th, a nonprofit, independent news organization based in Austin, Texas. Salem Collo-Julin, culture editor of the Reader, will be promoted to managing editor, with other editorial changes to be announced soon. Hawkins, who founded Rebellious Magazine for Women and the Feminist Media Foundation, joined the Reader as digital managing editor in 2018 and rose to co-editor-in-chief in 2019 and co-publisher in 2020. "We inherited a company losing $1 million a year, with no business staff, then survived the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the most recent struggle to get to nonprofit independence," said publisher Tracy Baim. "Karen has provided an invaluable partnership to me in this work, and I will miss her teamwork deeply.” Continue reading

Robservations: Dual debates keep GOP candidates for governor apart; Jane Pauley to present Silver Circle Award; ABC 7 hires reporter Christian Piekos

Illinois State Capitol

Robservations on the media beat:

In a conflict that should have been avoided, two Chicago TV stations have scheduled live in-studio debates among Republican candidates for Illinois governor on the same night — and neither station is backing down. So on May 24, Richard Irvin, Paul Schimpf and Max Solomon will appear on NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5, and Darren Bailey, Gary Rabine and Jesse Sullivan will appear on Nexstar Media WGN-Channel 9. The NBC 5 forum, moderated by Mary Ann Ahern, will start at 6 p.m. and also air on Telemundo WSNS-Channel 44 and TV stations in Peoria, Rockford, Decatur, Quincy, St. Louis and Paducah/Cape Girardeau/Harrisburg. Co-sponsors are the Chicago Urban League, the Latino Policy Forum and the Union League Club of Chicago. The WGN debate, anchored by Micah Materre and Tahman Bradley, will start at 7 p.m. and also air on Nexstar Media news/talk WGN 720-AM and TV stations in Champaign, Peoria/Bloomington, Rockford, Springfield/Decatur, Rock Island/Moline, Carterville, St. Louis and Terra Haute. There's still a chance for the candidates to appear together when ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7 hosts another live debate June 2, co-sponsored by Univision WGBO-Channel 66 and the League of Women Voters of Illinois. The primary election is June 28. Continue reading

Former CBS 2 reporter Mike Puccinelli joins Chicago Department of Buildings

Mike Puccinelli

Mike Puccinelli, former reporter and substitute news anchor at CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2, has been named director of public affairs for the City of Chicago Department of Buildings.

Puccinelli, who grew up in Oak Park and attended Oak Park River Forest High School, spent 17 years at CBS 2. He was among more than a dozen cut from the station as part of sweeping company-wide layoffs in May 2020.

"Mike is excited to join the Department of Buildings to try and highlight the amazing work being done by the men and women of the department," the press office of Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a statement. Continue reading

Robservations: Chicago Tribune, BGA win Pulitzer Prize; Daily Herald hires climate change reporter; MediaTracks scales back after sale of shows

Chicago Tribune and Better Government Association

Robservations on the media beat:

The Chicago Tribune and the Better Government Association shared the Pulitzer Prize for local reporting Monday. Tribune reporter Cecilia Reyes and BGA reporter Madison Hopkins collaborated on “The Failures Before the Fires,” a two-year investigation called "a piercing examination of the city’s long history of failed building- and fire-safety code enforcement, which let scofflaw landlords commit serious violations that resulted in dozens of unnecessary deaths." It was the first Pulitzer in the 99-year history of the BGA, the nonprofit newsroom and government watchdog agency. "There's a lot left to be done,” David Greising, president and CEO of the BGA, said in a statement. “The city is little better off today than it was when dozens of people died in preventable fires. A ‘problem landlords’ list does not keep people safe." It's the Tribune's 28th Pulitzer — and its first since 2017. With editing led by Kaarin Tisue at the Tribune and David Kidwell and John Chase at the BGA, “The Failures Before the Fires” also received four awards at the Chicago Headline Club’s Peter Lisagor Awards ceremony Friday. Continue reading