Feder's Chicago media flashback: March 1990

March 9, 2010

An assortment of news items (updated and annotated) from my Chicago Sun-Times column 20 years ago this week:

  • "The hottest tickets in town -- 125,000 free passes to 'The Bozo Show' -- will be up for grabs. For the first time since the waiting list was frozen with a 10-year backlog in 1980, WGN-Channel 9 will accept requests for 'Bozo' audience tickets, covering tapings from this fall through 1995. . . . All available tickets will be allotted on one day only -- next Saturday -- via a special 900 telephone line." [Tribune Co. canceled "The Bozo Show" in 2001 after 40 years on the air. I'm still mad at them for it.]
  • "It's anchors away at WMAQ-Channel 5, with Ysabel Duron and Mary Murnane preparing to move on from the NBC-owned station to advance their careers. And poised to take over where Duron and Murnane leave off is newcomer Jackie Bange, described by her bosses as Channel 5's 'next big star.' " [Bange, who joined Channel 5 the previous fall, jumped to Channel 9 in 1993. She now anchors weekends there. Duron is a weekend anchor at KRON-TV in San Francisco. I've lost track of Murnane.]
  • "High as ever on Jonathon Brandmeier's potential for television, NBC now plans to showcase the Chicago radio star in a prime-time network special . . .‚  [that] will serve as the pilot for a proposed variety series. 'We don't quite know what the show will be yet, but it's our strong belief that we have a tremendous asset in Jonathon,' said Rick Ludwin, NBC senior vice president." ["Johnny B. on the Loose," a nationally syndicated variety show, ran for just five weeks in 1991. "I didn't want to do it, and my gut is always right," Brandmeier later lamented. His most recent radio gig -- mornings at classic rock WLUP-FM (97.9) -- ended last November.]
  • "Rich Koz, the WCKG-FM (105.9) morning man who moonlights on 'The Koz Zone' Saturday nights on WFLD-Channel 32, is expanding his television duties to five days a week. Starting next month, Koz will trade his weekend comedy role to host Channel 32's lineup of children's programs from 3 to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday." [Koz resumed his signature role as "Svengoolie" (shortened from "Son of Svengoolie") in 1995 at WCIU-Channel 26, where he still holds forth. He was inducted into the Silver Circle of the Chicago Television Academy in 2004.]
  • "Edward R. Vrdolyak's brief career as a radio talk show host appears to have derailed at WLS-AM (890). After five months as a Sunday night fixture on the all-talk station, the former Chicago alderman and mayoral candidate has been missing from the mike for three weeks. . . . 'He's still in our plans, and I still think he's got a future with the radio station,' [program director] Drew Hayes said." [Vrdolyak teamed with Ty Wansley to co-host afternoons on WLS from 1993 to 1994. The duo spent two years after that at the former WJJD. In 2008, Vrdolyak pleaded guilty to federal charges of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud. Wansley is morning news anchor at urban contemporary WGCI-FM (107.5). Hayes returned to WLS as operations director in January.]
  • "Good news for fans of Rick O'Dell: While continuing to host his popular 'Sunday Soundscapes' on WNUA-FM (95.5), overnight jock O'Dell has been promoted to the midday shift -- from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. weekdays." [O'Dell hosted middays on the former smooth jazz station for nearly 20 years and was promoted to the additional job of program director. He now doubles as midday host and program director of smooth jazz WLFM-FM (87.7).]
  • "Suspicion is growing that the Chicago Board of Education may be looking to unload its noncommercial public-radio outlet, WBEZ-FM (91.5). On the agenda for the March 14 meeting of the board's finance committee is a discussion of the possible sale of the station." [Six months later, the Board of Education severed all ties to the station after 47 years and transferred its license to the non-profit WBEZ Alliance Inc. "I'm very optimistic that we will be successful in this venture," Carole R. Nolan, general manager of WBEZ, said at the time. In 2010, you're reading this on a website operated by WBEZ Alliance's Vocalo.org.]
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