A curation of news items about the media from this past week, with a particular emphasis on Chicago
(By Rick Kaempfer)
*Chicago Radio Ratings
=The ten top rated stations for April were…
WLIT (6.8), WDRV (6.5), WXRT (4.6), WBBM-AM (4.4), WOJO (4.3), WVAZ (4.1), WUSN (3.7), WLS-FM (3.6), WTMX (3.6), WGN (3.2), WKSC (3.2).
=That’s 7 months in a row for WLIT at the top of the ratings.
=The three stations with the biggest increase from last month were The Drive (up .9), The Score (up .6) WMVP-AM (up .5) and Kiss-FM (up .5)
=The biggest drop for the month went to WBBM-AM (down .4).
=Four stations topped a million in cume: WLIT, WLS-FM, WDRV-FM, WKSC-FM.
*Audacy Being Delisted by NYSE
=This is a financial catastrophe for the company that locally owns WXRT, WBBM-AM & FM, WUSN, The Score, and 104.3FM. The announcement was made on Tuesday night, via this statement: The New York Stock Exchange announced today that the staff of NYSE Regulation has determined to commence proceedings to delist the Class A common stock of Audacy, Inc. (the “Company”) — ticker symbol AUD — from the NYSE. Trading in the Company’s Class A common stock will be suspended immediately.
=At the time of the announcement, the stock was trading for less than ten cents a share. No word on how this will affect the radio stations owned by Audacy. But this is what CEO David Field said in a statement: "While we are disappointed by the NYSE’s decision, we are hopeful we will find our way back to the exchange later this year as we execute our action plans which include a reverse stock split to satisfy NYSE rules, the continued execution of our liability management plans and working with our financial advisors to refinance our debt. Further, as macroeconomic conditions stabilize, we believe we will benefit from a general market recovery and will be able to capitalize on our investments in strategic transformation that position Audacy well for the future."
*Museum of Broadcast Communications Departs Home
=The National Radio Hall of Fame is currently homeless. The Museum of
Broadcast Communications has left it’s previous home on State Street and is
looking for a new home. The Chicago Tribune has more on this story.
*R.I.P Charlene Milne
=WXRT morning man Richard Milne stepped away from his job last year to care for his ailing wife Charlene. She passed away this week, and Richard posted this about her passing: Charlene passed peacefully this morning with Harrison and I both by her side. Always the DJ, the last song I played for her was The Beatles "Good Night". Rest easy now, my love; you brought nothing but good to this world.
*AM Car Radios Still Endangered
=This is a pretty well-balanced report from WGN-TV about the impact of this decision by car makers. I know I’ve addressed this many times in past columns, but let’s face it, it’s a Mayday moment for AM Radio.
Say goodbye to AM radio: Why carmakers are removing it from new models https://t.co/BYwBLLpHKz— WGN Morning News (@WGNMorningNews) May 15, 2023
=The lobbying of Congress by the NAB does seem to be having an effect. 100 House members sent a letter to all the major car manufacturers asking them to keep AM Radio, and a bill has been introduced called the “AM for Every Vehicle Act”. A long way to go before it passes, but at least they are trying.
=My next interview for Illinois Entertainer will be with WGN Radio’s GM Mary Boyle. One of the topics of discussion is this car radio dilemma. Mary, by the way, was just named in the latest print edition of Radio Ink as one of the most influential women in radio.
*Library of Congress Preserves Black Women in Radio
=The BWIR National Historic Collection and Oral History Project has documented radio career contributions and legacies, with over 150 hours of sound. There are a few Chicago radio names on the list, including Bionce Foxx and Bonnie Deshong. The full list of 39 is here.
*JVO on Generic FM Radio
=Former Q-101 legend James VanOsdol isn’t in radio anymore, but he’s still obviously a radio guy deep down. He posted this on his Facebook page this week about a mistake made by FM radio years ago, and the effect it is having now. I think he’s onto something here…One of the most insidious ways FM helped this along was by stripping surnames from hosts. I'm sure the thought process back when the trend started was, "Peter Johnson is too formal; people will relate better to just 'Peter.'" So now many FM hosts are known only by their first names. Ironically, instead of making them more relatable, the move makes them harder to remember. It definitely inhibits the potential for a personality to become a "star" in that paradigm.
=Podcasts Dethrone Social Media Influencers. At least that’s what this study claims.
=The latest This Is Love podcast is about Chicago’s most popular weatherman, Tom Skilling.
*False iHeart Ads Cost Google Millions
=The case against Google’s use of iHeart radio personalities to do testimonial commercials for products they’ve never used was settled in court this week. Google was ordered to pay $8 million to the state of Texas, and another $9 million to the FTC. Radio Ink has the story.
*Lisagor Award Winners
=The full list is here, but WBEZ brought home three awards, and WGN won two. The other radio station that was recognized was WSCR, winning one.
*Grip it and Rip It
*Rick on the Radio
=Thanks to John Landecker for having me on his WGN Radio show this week to chat about radio. You can listen to that here if you’re interested. Funny sidebar: The article is accompanied by a picture of Bobby Skafish. I took that picture, but note to the webmaster, that’s not me.
*The Loop Files
=This feature posts every Tuesday. This week it’s former Loop program director Greg Solk.
*May 14—Janet Shamlian birthday
=The former Channel 2 reporter is now a correspondent for CBS News, contributing to CBS This Morning and CBS Evening News. Janet grew up in Park Ridge.
*May 15—Lynn Sweet birthday
=The Chicago Sun Times reporter is the paper’s Washington Bureau Chief. She has worked for the Sun-Times since 1976.
*May 15—Fred Huebner birthday
=Fred retired not too long ago after a long and distinguished sports radio career at both the Score and ESPN (WMVP). I interviewed Fred back in 2017 for Illinois Entertainer.
=I also ran into him and a few other radio pals at the Utopia concert a few years ago. (Photo- L-R: Mike Medina, Michael McInerny, Jimmy Mac McInerney, me, Fred Huebner, Dan McNeil)
*May 15, 1928—Mickey Mouse makes his first cartoon appearance.
=That 95-year anniversary is the reason ol’ Mickey has been in the news lately.
*May 16, 1929—The First Academy Awards
=Douglas Fairbanks was the host at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles. 270 people attended. The radio broadcast of the Academy Awards began the following year.
*May 17—Robert Feder birthday
=When Robert retired last year after four decades on the beat, he left a gaping hole in Chicago media coverage. I remember when I was still working in the business, the first thing I did every morning was open the Sun-Times to his column to see if I was still employed. His last media gig was for the Daily Herald.
*May 17--Jim O’Donnell birthday
=One of the best writers on the local newspaper scene, Jim currently covers sports media for the Daily Herald. I featured him in my column at Illinois Entertainer back in 2018.
*May 17—Jordan Dash Orman-Weiss birthday
=He goes by Dash on the air at WTMX. I interviewed him for Illinois Entertainer in 2021.
*May 17—Jim Nantz birthday
=He may not be doing the Final Four again after this past season, but Nantz is still the biggest star at CBS Sports.
May 20—Dina Travis Sanchez birthday
=Dina was part of the great Loop promotional team in the 1980s and 1990s. (Photo by Tricia Furnett Mladic)
*The Writers Strike
=The striking WGA has agreed not to picket the Tony Awards after everyone involved came to an agreement about a slightly altered format. The show airs on June 11th.
=The Peabody Awards, on the other hand, have opted not to do a ceremony this year.
*Lou Canellis Gets Ellis Island Medal of Honor
=The WFLD sports anchor and restauranteur was in New York being honored last weekend, along with Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate Chuck Schumer, Actor Liev Schreiber, Celebrity Chef & TV Personality Rachel Ray, Arizona Cardinals Owner Bill Bidwill, and others. The award honors individuals who have committed themselves to America, embraced the opportunities America offers, and helped make a difference. Lou was nominated by White Claw founder Anthony von Mandel for his work in the media, as a businessman, and as a philanthropist. Congratulations to Lou. (Photo from Lou's Facebook page)
*Lisagor Award Winners
=We had our own awards here in Chicago last weekend. WTTW was the big winner. They won nine Lisagors. NBC-5 also won two, and WFLD won one as well. Full list is here.
*The Chicago Sky on the U
=The U and CW26 will air 15 Chicago Sky WNBA games for the Chicago audience, beginning with tonight’s opening night, Friday, May 19. You can find the full schedule at the U’s website.
*Succession’s Alan Ruck Gets NY Times Profile
=Ruck plays Connor Roy on Succession. You probably know he also played Cameron on the film Ferris Buehler’s Day Off, but did you know he has deep roots in the Chicago theater scene? He got his big break here in 1979.
*Pat McAfee Signs Huge Deal
=He walked away from a $120 million 4-year-deal with Fan Duel, so you can only imagine what ESPN is paying him in this new deal. Details have not been announced yet, but it’s at least an 8-figure yearly deal. How’d you like to be one of the 7000 Disney (ESPN’s owner) employees being laid off while they throw this kind of money at one man?
=Speaking of Disney, the battle between the media giant and the Governor of Florida took an unexpected turn this week. Disney announced they would NOT be investing over a billion dollars on a previously announced project after all.
=Peacock just paid over $100 million to exclusively air one NFL playoff game this year. ESPN.com has the details.
*Cable News Corner
=The reporter who valiantly tried to fact-check President Trump during the Town Hall last week is getting her own prime-time slot on CNN. Kaitlan Collins moves from the morning show to the 8PM (Central) slot.
=Matt Drudge reported this week that there was going to be a shakeup at Fox News with Sean Hannity moving into Tucker’s old slot, and Laura Ingraham moving out of the prime-time lineup. Drudge also suggested that Jesse Waters (8pm central) and Greg Gutfield (9pm central) would be getting their own prime time shows. I’m sure Drudge has good sources at Fox, but the network has not officially confirmed this news yet.
*R.I.P Sam Zell
=In Chicago he will always be remembered for his incredibly tumultuous time as the owner of the Chicago Tribune (and WGN). Sam Zell passed away this week at the age of 81. (Associated Press obituary)
=This morning's piece in Axios is a great primer on that tumultuous time at the Tribune.
*Sun Times Newsroom Gets a New Contract
=It took ten months to negotiate, but the Sun Times Guild agreed to terms with Chicago Public Radio. Full details are here.
*The New-Look Crain’s Chicago
*Lisagor Award Winners
=Since the Lisagor is a Chicago journalism award, it should come as no surprise that Chicago’s newspapers did quite well. The Chicago Tribune won eleven Lisagor Awards. The Sun-Times brought home eight.
=Block Club Chicago won 4, Crains won 3, The Reader won 2, and The Daily Herald, New City, the Times of Northwest Indiana each won one. Full list is here.
*R.I.P Cliff Terry
RIP: Cliff Terry, Tribune critic https://t.co/w9jKF3EA1h— Ray Long (@RayLong) May 14, 2023
*New Digital News Site Debuts
=It’s called The Messenger and it’s funded by a former owner of The Hill (and part-owner of the Hollywood Reporter). This isn’t a small startup either. The Messenger debuted this week with 175 journalists on the payroll. I know your first question. What is the political slant of this one? They claim to be objective.
=So far the reviews have been pretty brutal, but you can check it out for yourself.
*Tribune to Buy Daily Herald Plant
=The Daily Herald plant is in Schaumburg. That’s where the Chicago Tribune is heading now. Full story here.
*CNET Workers Unionize to Fight Off AI
=Concerned that their jobs are going to be replaced by automation, restructuring plans, and anticipated massive layoffs, about a hundred workers at CNET have unionized. Details are here.
*The Most Outrageous Pulitzer Lead
*Chicago’s Newest Media Star
=Chicago has a new viral sensation, and he’s a river turtle. They call him Chonkasaurus. Right, Block Club Chicago?
=Right, Chicago Sun Times?
*Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Google, Twitter
=This was the case that was supposed to test Section 230, and the court opted not to include that in it's ruling. The Washington Post has the full story.
*Former Exec Exposes TikTok
=Some pretty explosive claims in this Axios piece, including that China was elevating propaganda, and that they were maintaining access to US data.
*Montana bans TikTok
=Not sure how that can work in just one state, but they’re going to give a try.
*Elon Musk Sits for a CNBC Interview
=Read it here, and judge for yourself if he has gone off the deep end.
As always, if you have any media story you’d like to share or think that I might be interested in sharing, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. If you're in Chicago media and wondering why I didn't mention your birthday, it's probably because I don't know it. Drop me a line and let me know and I'll put you on my calendar.
If you're interested in some of my other projects from this week...
The Fifth Edition (2023) of EveryCubEver is out now! Buy your copy today
The Fifth Edition (2023) of EveryCubEver is also on amazon. Buy your copy today.
Minutia Men: Worm Munchies
Minutia Men Celebrity Interview: Mrs. America
Minutia Men Celebrity Interview Classic: Former Cub Adam Greenberg
Free Kicks with Adam & Rick: The Blonde Assassin
Meet the Eckhartz Press Author: Ken Korber
From the Eckhartz Book Shelf: Everything I Know I Learned From Rock Stars by Bill Paige
My latest novel: Back in the D.D.R
Windy City Reviews Back in the D.D.R.
Podcast Interview about Back in the D.D.R: Military Family Museum Podcast