Dec. 24, 2009
Dec. 24, 2009
I think I first fell in love with the idea of being a newspaperman after watching "The Adventures of Superman" as a kid. Reruns of the 1950s George Reeves series aired every afternoon on WGN-Channel 9 in the '60s, and I remember watching all of them with unbounded fascination.
Call it fate, but I always found myself drawn more to Clark Kent, the "mild-mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper," than to the Man of Steel.‚ Clark was always so cool, so intelligent and so dashing in those horn-rimmed glasses and fedora. Years later I came to wonder why you hardly ever saw an actual copy of The Daily Planet, or why Clark and Lois and Jimmy never seemed to have any deadlines. But if being a reporter meant getting paid to go out on exciting adventures and finding things out before anybody else, I knew that was for me!
Dec. 23, 2009
All of a sudden, everybody's trying to break in to Cook County Jail. For the second time in as many months, a cable network television series is originating from the Chicago complex described in a press release as "the largest single-site jail facility in the United States." (Occupancy: nearly 10,000.)
At 9 p.m. on Jan. 1, MSNBC will premiere "The Squeeze," a new crime series that follows the work of the Criminal Intelligence Unit of the Cook County Sheriff's Department and explores the gang culture inside and outside of Cook County Jail. (Judging by its weekend and late-night lineups, MSNBC obviously has a thing for prison reality shows.) It's the first of three one-hour episodes produced by 20 West Productions, the new documentary unit of Charlie Besser's Chicago-based Intersport Inc. The company derives the name from its address at 20 W. Kinzie.
If the concept sounds vaguely familiar, that's because the Discovery Channel beat MSNBC to the punch with "Cook County Jail," an acclaimed three-part documentary series by Towers Productions, that focused on dangers inside the jail ranging from gang violence to mental illness among inmates.
Dec. 22, 2009
Citadel Broadcasting's bankruptcy filing claimed its first Chicago casualty Monday: Ron Magers, No. 1 news anchor at ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7, has been dropped as a daily contributor to Roe Conn's afternoon show on news/talk WLS-AM (890).
Today will be Magers' last day after almost 12 years as a commentator and raconteur on Conn's program. Magers' in-studio presence (heard from 3 to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday) consistently was a highlight of the show -- and often was the best half-hour of conversation in all of Chicago radio. Yes, he really was that good.
When Magers started, both Channel 7 and WLS-AM were owned by Walt Disney Co., which provided a perfect opportunity for synergy. Disney spun off its ABC Radio stations to Citadel in 2006. The decision not to renew his radio deal was presented as a fait accompli with no opportunity for negotiation, according to insiders. Contacted for comment Monday, Magers said:
"Spending a few minutes on Roe's show every day was a great delight for me. I'm really sorry it has come to an end. When the free coffee machine disappeared from the kitchen, I had a feeling my contract wouldn't be renewed. Times are tough in radio."
Dec. 21, 2009
In both cases, their high salaries and diminished ratings could have been used to justify firing them. So how come Jonathon Brandmeier was dumped while Roe Conn was extended for two more years? The answer could be that one company knows what it's doing, and the other does not.
Dec. 18, 2009
After three years at Salem Communications news/talk WIND-AM (560), Cisco Cotto may be heading back to Citadel Broadcasting news/talk WLS-AM (890). But here's the big surprise: He's expected to become Roe Conn's new afternoon partner.
Sources said Salem had hoped to renew Cotto's contract as Big John Howell's morning co-host at WIND. But an overture from WLS -- and an off-air audition with Conn at a location outside of the station -- resulted in a two-year offer to install Cotto as afternoon co-host. If Salem declines to match terms of the deal, Cotto could join Conn's show by Jan. 4, according to insiders.
While Salem bosses mull their response, Cotto is not expected to be on with Howell Friday morning. Cotto was seen removing some of his belongings from WIND late Thursday.
Dec. 17, 2009
Dec. 17, 2009
Jonathon Brandmeier isn't the only would-be poet out there when it comes to delivering angry diatribes against clueless radio bosses. Just as his deliciously wicked comic/rap music video (titled "Johnny B. The Unemployed Radio Mo Fo") was getting nationwide attention Wednesday, supporters of two other former Chicago radio stars were on a rampage of their own.
Fans of Kathy O'Malley and Judy Markey still haven't gotten over the midday duo's firing last May after an extraordinary 20-year run at Tribune Co.-owned news/talk WGN-AM (720). Although they had little in common demographically with Brandmeier's target audience, Kathy and Judy's loyal legion of "girlfriends" was every bit as put out by the ham-fisted way WGN dispensed with them. It was a shameful example of station management's ongoing disrespect and disregard for listeners.