Robservations on the media beat:
- Tune in to Monday night's 9 p.m. newscast on WFLD-Channel 32 if you want to catch Bob Sirott's debut as the Fox-owned station's lead anchor. But other than a few tweaks here and there, don't expect to see much else that's different with the show. Plans to overhaul the newscast will be implemented gradually over the coming weeks and months, insiders said. Sirott, 60, replaces Jeff Goldblatt, 41, who joined Channel 32 in 2008 after nine years as a correspondent for Fox News Channel. Although Goldblatt's contract runs though mid-August, his last night on the air turned out to be July 2. He didn't deliver any personal comments at the time, but Goldblatt later posted the following on his Facebook page:
"Life can be like a deck of cards. You never know what you're going to be dealt. You work with the hand you get, and if you're a believer, you make magic out of it. And that's certainly my intention now. I owe that to those of you who afforded me the privilege of having me in your homes and supported me all the way. . . . I'm absolutely flattered by all the support and positive feedback!!! I love what I do. So it's full steam ahead. On to the next journey. I will keep you all posted."
- It's hardly news that Bonneville International hot adult-contemporary WTMX-FM (101.9) continues to top the ratings among adults for Eric Ferguson and Kathy Hart's morning show. But the durable duo, now in their 14th year together, are even hotter than you think.‚ During one week of the just-released Arbitron Portable People Meter survey for June, Eric & Kathy exceeded a 19 percent share of women between the ages of 25 and 54. Look at it this way: One out of every five adult women listening to radio in the Chicago area tuned in to The Mix morning show. In today's fragmented radio market, that's nothing short of astonishing.
- Hal Sparks, the actor/comedian best known as a contributor to VH1 and as a regular on "The Stephanie Miller Show," will debut this weekend as host of a live weekly talk show airing from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays on Newsweb Radio progressive talk WCPT-AM (820). The show, produced exclusively for WCPT, will be simulcast on Newsweb's WCPY-FM (92.5), WCPT-FM (92.7) and WCPQ-FM (99.9). Sparks replaces Michael Feldman's "Whad'Ya Know," which moves to 2 p.m. Sundays.
- Tributes are pouring in to Mal Bellairs, the veteran Chicago radio personality who died Monday at age 90. Best known for his warm, engaging manner and mellifluous voice, Bellairs enjoyed a hugely successful 15-year run as host of numerous shows on CBS-owned WBBM-AM (780) before shifting to commercial voice-over work and station ownership in the northwest suburbs. In his 1988 book WBBM Radio: Yesterday & Today, radio historian Chuck Schaden devoted a full chapter to Bellairs, who recalled:
"Shortly after I started at WBBM [in 1955], I got my first big break -- an interview show called "ËœLucky Ladies' from grocery stores for Thomas J. Webb Coffee. That was a difficult show to do because in grocery stores are always hard to do, whether you have 5,000 women all climbing down your neck or you have nobody, and you still had to do a show. But it gave me good exposure. I would give away coffee and silver dollars, and to this day people walk up to me and say: "ËœI still have that same silver dollar you gave me.' . . . WBBM was very kind to me. They let me run with my ideas and this was the thing that I most appreciated about WBBM. If they felt you had a creative urge, an idea, there was nobody saying: "ËœWell, you'll get the greatest numbers of audience points . . . we have to do this . . .' It was freedom, and I think that's why WBBM has done so very well."
- Gambling guru John Grochowski, whose nationally syndicated gaming advice column is a weekly feature in the Sun-Times, has cashed out his radio chips after five years at all-news WBBM to join Citadel Broadcasting news/talk WLS-AM (890). Starting this week, his "Casino Answer Man" segments air at 5:18 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. WLS also just added a "Casino Answer Man" page to its website. (Incidental info: Grochowski's biggest win came not in a casino, but as a game show contestant. In July 2000, he won $125,000 on ABC's "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire."
- Andrew Hayes has resigned after three years as director of marketing, publicity and station relations for Telemundo Spanish-language WSNS-Channel 44. He's been hired as vice president of marketing for Fifth Third Bank."The past three years at NBC Tower have been an amazing personal and professional journey," Hayes told colleagues. "To have had the opportunity to work with so many passionate and talented people at both Telemundo and NBC Chicago is what I'll remember and treasure the most."
- Julia McEvoy has resigned as senior news desk editor at Chicago Public Media WBEZ-FM (91.5) to join KQED Public Media for Northern California, based in San Francisco. McEvoy started here on a freelance basis in 1986, later becoming a documentary producer and executive producer of the "Chicago Matters" series.