Friday, May 10, 2024

Media Notebook--5-10-24


A curation of news items about the media from this past week, with a particular emphasis on Chicago.



*You Didn’t See Nothin

=What a week for the Invisible Institute and USG Audio. On Monday they won a Pulitzer Prize for their You Didn’t See Nothin podcast. Yesterday they added a Peabody Award to their shelves. The series is about crime in Chicago, and features the formerly incarcerated journalist Yohance Lacour.



*WSHE Changes Formats

=Something needed to be done with the market’s 24th rated radio station, so on some level, this wasn’t a huge shock. On the other hand, this is the first “new format” to hit town in quite a while. The on-air staff remains, but WSHE is changing their music. They are going with a “millennial hits” format; hits from the 90s through the 10s. It’s now referred to as Throwback 100.3.



*Radio Mercury Award Finalists

=Congrats to the Drive (WDRV) for being named finalists for three Radio Mercury Awards (for commercial radio production). Named in the credits for all three of them, of course, is production guru Matt Bisbee. They are finalists in the Broadcast Radio Single Promotional Spot category. Several Chicago advertising agencies were also recognized. You can listen to the spots here.



*Drew Walker exits

=The 20-year US-99 veteran made the announcement this past weekend. Here’s what he posted on his Facebook page…

What can I say after 20 years? Simply, THANK YOU. Yesterday was my last day on the air at US*99. Why now? It's time for a change. What's next? I'm not allowed to say just yet but I am very, very excited about my future right here in Chicago. I promise that when I get the green light to talk about it, you'll be the first to know and it is GOOD! For US*99, it's been one of the great joys of my life to spend time with you there every day.

=Here’s another post from Drew…


*Dr. Fauci and WBEZ

=WBEZ is hosting an Evening with Dr. Anthony Fauci on June 26 at the Athenaeum Center. WBEZ’s Sasha Ann Simons will moderate the discussion. Tickets are available here.



*WLS-FM Becomes ProductionVault Station

=What does this mean exactly? Well, it’s a creative service that provides “extra sizzle” to a station through things like jingles and imaging. ProductionVault is the company that provides it, and WLS-FM is the pilot station for their Classic Hits format package.



*Podcast Corner

=From the “Everybody has a podcast” department, add former Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy.



*Rest in Peace

=Steve Albini

Chicago’s very own. This is a tough one. The acclaimed music producer (Nirvana, the Pixies, Jesus Lizard) was only 61 years old. Heart attack.

=Stuart Rosenberg

One of the founders of SPACE in Evanston. He was 68.

=Joe Thomas



*The Loop Files

=Thanks to Axios for this nice piece about the book.

=I’ll be on WGN Radio tonight at 7pm talking about the book with Dave Plier

=One last big signing this Saturday (3-7pm) at Pollyanna Brewing Company in Roselle, IL. I’ve been hearing that several other fellow Loopers are planning on attending. Come on out if you can.






 *May 5—Mark Caro birthday

=The long-time Chicago Tribune writer is now the host of a great podcast called Caro-pop. I wrote about the show for Illinois Entertainer last year.


May 5—Jimmy Caranne birthday

=Jimmy was a contributor at WBEZ for several years but is mainly known as an improv artist/actor/writer/comedian/teacher. Caranne is a Second City veteran.


May 5—Rafer Weigel birthday

=The son of legendary sports anchor Tim Weigel had a run here in Chicago as an anchor at WFLD-TV. What is he doing now?


*May 7—John “Swany” Swanson birthday

=Swany is the dean of Chicago radio producers. He got his start as a technical producer for Jonathon Brandmeier, but later produced shows by Steve Cochran and Kevin Matthews, and most famously was the executive producer of the long-running Eric and Kathy Show. He still produces the show that emerged from that, the Mix Morning Show. (And, oh yeah, he also co-wrote The Radio Producer’s Handbook with me).


*May 7—Dina Bair birthday

=Dina has been with WGN-TV since the mid-90s. She currently co-hosts the WGN Midday News and serves as the station’s medical reporter.


*May 7—Jack Miller birthday

=I worked with Jack at WJMK, but he also worked at WCLR, WFYR, and WCFL. Jack passed away a few years ago.


*May 8—Ron Onesti birthday

=The popular local promoter brought back the Arcada Theater in St. Charles and the Des Plaines Theater in Des Plaines.


*May 10—Andy Masur birthday

=WGN Radio sportscaster Andy Masur has been part of the Chicago Cubs broadcasts (I interviewed him about that in 2010), part of the Chicago White Sox broadcasts (I interviewed him about that in 2020), and part of the San Diego Padres broadcasts. He also writes for Barrett Sports Media.

*May 11—Larry Hawley birthday

=Larry was a sports reporter/producer at WGN-TV. At the end of 2023 he announced that he is leaving the media business.


*May 11—Kevin Powell birthday

=Kevin is the afternoon sports anchor on WGN Radio.





*New Sox Play-by-Play Man Not Getting Great Reviews

=It’s not easy being the new guy, but White Sox TV play-by-play man John Schriffen is getting savaged on sports talk radio. Here are a few examples.


*Seinfeld’s New Netflix Movie Also Getting Panned

=It’s called “Frosted” and Richard Roeper reviewed it this week for the Sun Times. He calls it “one of the worst films of the decade.”


*The Bear Wins a Peabody Award

=Our current favorite show set in Chicago has added more hardware to their award shelf. PBS won 7 of them too. John Oliver also won one. The full list of winners is here.

*ABC News President Steps Down Suddenly

=Kim Godwin stepped down this weekend as president of ABC News. She was hailed three years ago after becoming the first Black woman to run a broadcast television news division, but it didn’t end well. Not only is she retiring from ABC; she is leaving the news business altogether. The Washington Post has more.

*Chicago Sky on WCIU

=After scoring two of the biggest names in the recent WNBA draft (Kamilla Cardoso and Angel Reese), interest is high for Chicago’s WNBA team this year. The Sky season begins next Wednesday (May 15) at 7PM, and WCIU (Channel 26) will be airing the game.



*Coming Soon: Me-TV Toons

=Shortly after my column posted last Friday, Me-TV made a big announcement about a new classic cartoon network. They are partnering with Warner Brothers Discovery, which of course, has a nearly unlimited supply of classic cartoons. The Sun-Times has the details.


*Also Coming Soon: A spinoff of “The Office”

=It won’t feature any of the characters from the original NBC show, but it will have the same format and style, and will be co-produced by the man who created the American version of “The Office”, Greg Daniels. You’ll love the setting for this one: “a dying historic Midwestern newspaper.”


*Girls on the Bus

=How about yet one more show about journalism. HBO Max's new show "Girls on the Bus" is written by a former New York Times reporter, and it's all about following Hillary Clinton's ten years of campaigns. Poynter did a Q&A with the show's creator.

*Cable News Corner

=Want to buy Sean Hannity’s house? He’s moving out of New York and selling his little Long Island home. If you need space, don’t bother. It’s only 11,000 square feet and only has nine bathrooms. 



*Q&A with Michael Steele

=The former RNC Chairman (and current MSNBC contributor) was interviewed this week by the media school at the University of Illinois (my alma mater). You can watch ithere.


*Rest in Peace

=Bernard Hill

Actor from Titanic and the Lord of the Rings sequel. He was 79.

=Susan Buckner

Actress from the film Grease. She was 72.






*Pulitzer Prize Winners

=Congrats to Sarah Conway of City News and Trina Reynolds Tyler of the Invisible Institute for winning the Pulitzer Prize for local reporting for their series “Missing in Chicago Parts 1-7”. Very impressive. Chicago author Jonathan Eig also won a Pulitzer Prize for his biography of Martin Luther King Jr. (King, a Life).

=Full list of Pulitzer winners can be found here.



*The Reader Returns to Once-a-Week Publishing

=Since COVID the Reader had moved back to bi-monthly publishing, but this week they announced June marks the return of once-a-week publishing.


*Chicago’s First Murder

=Interesting piece in Chicago magazine about the first murder in Chicago. It was committed by John Kinzie, the man they named the street after. 


*Q&A with NY Times Executive Editor

=His name is Joe Kahn. The Q&A was published in Semafor.






*TikTok Sues the US

=Saw this one coming…

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 or 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.