Feder's Chicago media flashback: August 1984

August 25, 2010

An assortment of news items (updated and annotated) from my Chicago Sun-Times columns of 26 years ago this week:


WLS-Channel 7 "Eyewitness News" team, 1984

  • "After 22 years in the Chicago television news business, John Drury finally has made it to the top. And it feels good. 'I'm exhilarated. I'm absolutely exhilarated,' Drury beamed on the eve of his return to WLS-Channel 7, where he took command this week as principal anchor of the station's 5 and 10 p.m. weekday newscasts. 'My heart is even beating at a different pace being over here.' " [Within a year, Drury and co-anchor Mary Ann Childers became No. 1 in the ratings, with Drury enjoying a spectacular 18-year run at the ABC-owned station until his retirement in 2002. In 2007, he died of Lou Gehrig's disease at age 80.]
  • "John Coleman, the former WLS-Channel 7 weatherjester who lost three jobs in little more than a year, landed on his feet again this week by signing on as WMAQ-Channel 5's 4:30, 6 and 10 p.m. weekday forecaster. Left out in the cold was weatherman Jerry Taft, who was fired yesterday but will continue to be paid $150,000 for the one year remaining on his Channel 5 contract." [Coleman, who lasted only six years at Channel 5, now works for KUSI-TV in San Diego, where he's been on a crusade to discredit the science surrounding global warming. Taft fared quite a bit better: Less than a week after being fired, he was picked up by Channel 7, where he's been happily ensconced ever since.]
  • "Seka, the Chicago porn queen whose controversial appearance on 'A.M. Chicago' last month with two other adult-film stars left quite a few red faces at WLS-Channel 7, still has at least one big fan at the station. Channel 7 general manager Dennis Swanson escorted Seka to the Cubs-Reds game Wednesday. Swanson and his guest were spotted in Channel 7's seats at Wrigley Field just to the left of home plate." [The architect of Channel 7's meteoric rise to the top of the ratings, Swanson went on to hold high-level jobs with ABC, NBC, CBS and now Fox, where he's president of station operations. Seka, who hosted a Saturday night sex talk show for several years on WLUP-FM (97.9), continues to make public appearances and maintain a website.]
  • "Michael Feldman, the 7-to-9 p.m. talker on WGN-AM (720), got quite a welcome when he came to Chicago from Madison, Wis. Shortly after his arrival last spring, Feldman was rejected for membership in the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. It seems that AFTRA's computer turned up a Los Angeles broadcaster also named Michael Feldman, and AFTRA forbids two performers from using the same name." [Following Feldman's brief and miserable tenure at WGN, his return to Madison the following year inspired him to launch "Whad'Ya Know?" The weekly comedy quiz show, distributed by Public Radio International, is in its 25th‚ year.]
  • "Nine months after his ballyhooed return to Chicago radio, afternoon drive disc jockey John Landecker is about to part company with WLUP-FM (97.9) and sign on as morning man at WAGO-FM (105.9). WLUP general manager Jim deCastro is scheduled to meet today with Landecker's agent, attorney Saul Foos, to work out Landecker's release from the Loop and reach a settlement on the remainder of the three-year, no-cut contract he signed last December." [Landecker, who was replaced at the Loop by evening jock Bobby Skafish, now hosts a daily talk show on WIMS-AM (1420) in Michigan City, Ind., and a syndicated oldies show, "Into the 70s," Sunday nights on WLS-FM (94.7). DeCastro is CEO of Nothing But Net and managing partner of The Content Factory, two Chicago-based firms he founded. Foos served time in prison for bilking clients out of millions of dollars.]
  • "Robert Murphy may be crazy -- as the straitjacket he wears in his ads suggests -- but he's also about to become a rich man. The irreverent WKQX-FM (101.1) morning man today will sign a new three-year, no-cut contract worth more than $1 million that will keep him at the station through January, 1988. . . . Murphy, 33, thus will become the city's fourth highest-paid radio personality -- behind, in order, Wally Phillips of WGN-AM (720), Larry Lujack of WLS-AM (890), and Bob Collins of WGN." [Murphy had a successful 10-year run at Q101, followed by shorter stints at WLS-FM (94.7) and the former WXXY-FM. Earlier this year, he unveiled a comprehensive biographical website at murphyinthemorningradio.com.]
  • "WGN-AM (720) program director Dan Fabian will listen to tapes of Steve Dahl's WLS-FM (94.7) afternoon shows this week before deciding whether to make a stink over possible infringement of WGN's rights to Cubs baseball broadcasts. While watching the Cubs on WGN-Channel 9 in their studio, Dahl and Garry Meier kept listeners posted on the action and provided their own devastatingly funny comments. 'I'm paying an arm and a leg for those play-by-play rights and I have no intention of sharing them with anybody,' Fabian said." [Fabian, who became general manager of WGN in 1987 and left the station in 1996, is a writer and consultant. Dahl and Meier broke up in 1993. Dahl now hosts a daily podcast from his home. Meier hosts afternoons on WGN -- when his show isn't preempted by Cubs broadcasts.]

Appearing in the photo above are (front row): Mike Adamle, Andy Avalos, Linda Yu, Tim Weigel; (middle row): John Drury, Mary Ann Childers, Joel Daly, Jim Rose; (back row); Jerry Taft, Floyd Kalber, Steve Deshler, Joan Esposito.

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