Feder's Chicago media flashback: June 1987

June 25, 2010

An assortment of news items (updated and annotated) from my Chicago Sun-Times columns of 23 years ago this week:

  • "Robin Robinson Brantley, a WBBM-Channel 2 reporter and weekend anchor, will join WFLD-Channel 32 as co-anchor of its two new nightly newscasts. Brantley, 29, has agreed to jump to the Fox-owned station under terms of a three-year contract. She is expected to co-anchor Channel 32's 7 and 11 p.m. newscasts, which will debut on Aug. 3." [Robinson (who dropped "Brantley" from her name after a divorce) was teamed with Kris Long, a former weekend anchor from WCAU-TV in Philadelphia, to kick off "Fox 32 News," as scheduled, on Aug. 3, 1987.‚ Long, who worked at Channel 32 until 1993, now anchors the 5, 6 and 11‚ p.m. news at KPSP-TV in Palm Springs, Calif.‚ While his seat here was subsequently filled by Walter Jacobson, Mark Suppelsa and Jeff Goldblatt, Robinson is still ensconced on Channel 32's main newscast, which now airs at 9 p.m.]
  • "WMAQ-AM (670), NBC's Chicago radio flagship station since 1931, is being put up for sale. After six months of deliberations, executives of NBC and parent company General Electric reportedly have decided to remain in the radio business --  but to sell of several of their less profitable stations, including the all-talk outlet here." [NBC brought 57 years of ownership to an end in 1988 when it sold WMAQ to Group W, which turned the station all-news. A succession of consolidations landed the outlet in the portfolio of CBS, which eventually shifted sports/talk WSCR to its frequency. As radio historian Scott Childers noted on his tribute website: "On Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2000, at 6 a.m., Larry Langford was on hand for the final ringing of the NBC chimes on 670 kHz. Chicago's oldest station closed the microphone for the last time."]
  • "Tracked down at a suburban golf course Wednesday, Floyd Kalber responded to recently published comments by Channel 2 general manager Johnathan Rodgers, who derided an unnamed Channel 7 anchorman as someone who 'plays golf all day and then comes in and reads the news.' 'I think Rodgers is envious,' Kalber laughed. "ËœWhen he's gone through the fires and has enough experience and periods of success, then I'd say he would be due the sort of recreation some of us older fellows deserve.' " [Despite his fondness for golf, "The Big Tuna," as Kalber was affectionately known, maintained an unbroken string of No. 1 ratings until he retired from WLS-Channel 7 in 1998. He died of emphysema in 2004 at age 79. Rodgers, who later headed the CBS Television Stations division, now is president and CEO of TV One cable network.]
  • "Barney Pip, the trumpet-blowing former disc jockey (whose trademark line was 'Turn into peanut butter!') at the old WCFL-AM, is hoping to make a comeback in Chicago. Pip is between jobs since he left WGLI-AM in Babylon, N.Y." [The high-decibel DJ, who lit up WCFL at night from 1965 to 1970 (and whose real last name was Pippenger), never made that comeback. In 1994, he died in an auto accident in Indianapolis at age 57, leaving three ex-wives and seven children.]
  • "Dave Baum, the former WIND-AM (560) 'chat champ' who briefly hosted an early morning show on WMAQ-Channel 5, has returned to his radio roots. Starting next week, Baum will host a nightly call-in show on WBBM-AM (780) featuring interviews with newsmakers." [Baum, who also enjoyed a long run as a weekend sports/talk host at the Score, heads a north suburban-based media training firm and publishes the Media Straight Talk online newsletter.]
  • "Fresh from his grand-opening triumph as founder and president of the new Museum of Broadcast Communications, Bruce DuMont is immersed in his other role as WTTW-Channel 11's political correspondent. Hobnobbing with state legislators in Springfield, DuMont will provide live reports for Channel 11's 'Chicago Tonight,' host a seven-part 'Illinois Lawmakers' interview series for public television stations, and originate his WBEZ-FM (91.5) 'Inside Politics' show from the capital." [DuMont, who's still busy building his museum, just celebrated the 30th‚ anniversary of "Inside Politics" --  now known as the nationally syndicated "Beyond the Beltway."]
  • "WXRT-FM (93.1) morning host Terri Hemmert will kick off 'Rampant Beatlemania,' the station's 10th‚ annual daylong salute to the Beatles, starting at 6 a.m. today. The album-rock station promises to play 'virtually everything ever recorded, written and produced by the Fab Four.' " [Although she shifted from mornings to middays in 1992, Hemmert is still going strong after nearly four decades at 'XRT -- and still hosting "Rampant Beatlemania" each year. She was recently nominated for induction in the National Radio Hall of Fame.]
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