Spike O'Dell 'heartbroken' over the damage at WGN

June 28, 2010

Robservations on the media beat: 

  • Spike O'Dell

    I don't know which took more guts: Spike O'Dell speaking out against WGN-AM (720) -- or Phil Rosenthal posting O'Dell's comments on his Chicago Tribune media blog. But I have to give them both a lot of credit. In response to Friday's firing of Steve Cochran from the Tribune Co.-owned news/talk station, ex-morning star O'Dell wrote on Facebook: "As long as they are making all these changes, I hope they will change the call letters too. It is certainly no longer the station that mid-America knows and trusts." O'Dell, 56, who retired to Nashville, Tenn., after 21 years at WGN in December 2008, told Rosenthal in a follow-up Saturday:
"A radio station has to evolve all the time. It just seems that WGN is becoming 'just another station' on the dial with what is going on now. It seems to have lost the neighborly or friendly feel to it. I think people want to turn on their radio and enjoy what they listen to -- not get mad at it. I love that radio station so much. I guess that's why it breaks my heart when I hear things through the grapevine or in the press. I have stayed pretty quiet the last year and a half. I'm not there any longer, and no one cares what I think, and I'm fine [with] that. That's normal. But when I heard the news about 'Cocky,' I guess I blew an 'emotional gasket' and blurted out my response to his Facebook post."
  • Remember John Phillips? He's the Tribune Tower building manager (and crony of Tribune Co. CEO Randy Michaels) who posted those photos and descriptions on Facebook of Trib executives at a gambling, drinking and smoking party in the office of company patriarch Col. Robert R. McCormick. In a normal world, Phillips would consider himself lucky that he didn't lose his job here over the embarrassing incident. But the former traffic reporter is complaining about being axed as a commercial voice at his old station in Cincinnati. After learning he'd been dropped at WLW-AM, Phillips told the Cincinnati Enquirer's John Kiesewetter:
"The small minds at the Death Star [Clear Channel] have done it again.‚ I've been doing the Target World commercials almost as far back as the groundhog episode and that was 15 years ago. They told the owner he'll have to start using someone else. It's a shame."
  • Fans and friends of the legendary Dick Biondi will gather at 2 p.m. Tuesday for Chicago's official dedication of "Dick Biondi Way" at the northwest corner of East Lake Street and Garland Court. The honorary street designation will salute the Radio Hall of Famer, who recently celebrated the 50th‚ anniversary of his first broadcast on WLS-AM (890). "The Wild I-tralian" is still spinning the oldies from 7 to 11 p.m. Monday through Friday on Citadel Broadcasting WLS-FM (94.7). The location of "Dick Biondi Way" was chosen for its proximity to the 360 North Michigan Avenue building that housed the studios and offices of WLS for decades.
  • Marc Glick, former producer of "Chicago Tonight: The Week in Review" and "The Friday Night Show" at WTTW-Channel 11, has landed in the new role of executive producer of the Museum of Broadcast Communications. Glick was among a cadre of talented staffers who were casualties of CEO Dan Schmidt's $3 million budget shortfall earlier this month at Window to the World Communications.
  • Well, that didn't last long: Joe Ahern, the former Chicago television executive who once ran CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2 and ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7, is said to be out of the restaurant business after only six months. Ahern reportedly is telling friends that he's parted company with Alex Dana's Rosebud Restaurants, where he'd been president since January.
  • Two former executives at Fox-owned WFLD-Channel 32 here have been reunited in Boston. Stacey Marks Bronner, vice president and station manager of NECN, Comcast's 24-hour cable news network, has hired Debra Juarez as news director.‚  They previously worked together from 1993 to 2005 when Bronner was vice president and general manager of Channel 32, and Juarez was vice president of news. ‚ Juarez most recently has headed Deca Productions, a bilingual video production company, based in Oak Park.
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