Feder's Chicago media flashback: April 1986

April 23, 2010

An assortment of news items (updated and annotated) from my Chicago Sun-Times column 24 years ago this week:

  • "After months of on-air auditions all over town, aspiring broadcaster Eleanor Mondale finally has landed a steady radio job. . . . The 26-year-old actress and daughter of former Vice President Walter Mondale just agreed to a one-year deal with WGN-AM (720), starting in early June. She will appear as a frequent contributor to programs hosted by Wally Phillips, Bob Collins and others, as an all-around fill-in host and, eventually, as host of her own weekly show. 'We see her as a sort of Jacqueline of All Trades,' said WGN program director Dan Fabian." [Mondale, who was briefly married to former Bear Keith Van Horne, held a variety of on-air jobs in Chicago, including sidekick to morning star Robert Murphy on WKQX-FM (101.1). She most recently has been a talk show host at WCCO-AM in Minneapolis, where she's been waging an ongoing battle with brain cancer.]
  • "Tired of getting trounced each morning by Oprah Winfrey, WBBM-Channel 2 finally made it official: As of June 9, the station will move Phil Donahue's syndicated talk show to 3 p.m. weekdays from its longtime slot at 9 a.m." [Donahue, who'd relocated to New York, pulled the plug on his syndicated talk show after 26 years in 1996. An ill-fated comeback on MSNBC in 2003 lasted seven months. Anybody know whatever happened to Oprah?]
  • "Bozo the Clown is about to mark his silver anniversary as Chicago television's most beloved funnyman. To celebrate the momentous occasion, Channel 9 is planning a spectacular 25th‚ anniversary salute to "ËœThe Bozo Show' in the form of a live, two-hour special the evening of Sept. 7." [More than 3,000 fans packed Medinah Temple for the special, produced by Thea Flaum and Tom Weinberg. The high point was the historic appearance onstage together by Bob Bell and the man who succeeded him as Bozo, Joey D'Auria. Tribune Co. canceled "The Bozo Show" in 2001 after 40 years on the air. I'm still mad at them for it.]
  • "Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel's syndicated movie-review program will move to WBBM-Channel 2 from WGN-Channel 9, starting this fall. Walt Disney Domestic Television, which pirated the duo from Tribune Entertainment, yesterday reached a three-year agreement with Channel 2 to produce the show at the station's McClurg Court studios and to air it twice each weekend." [A section of Erie Street near the former CBS studios was named Siskel & Ebert Way in 1995. In 2001, two years after Siskel's death, production of the show -- then hosted by Ebert and Richard Roeper --  moved to WLS-Channel 7. Last month, Disney pulled the plug on "At the Movies," which will cease production this summer.]
  • "WLS-Channel 7 laid off 36 employees yesterday and announced plans to eliminate another 36 positions by the end of 1986, under a mandate to cut costs by parent company Capital Cities/ABC. Channel 7 general manager Joseph Ahern said the total work force at his station would drop from 435 to 363, adding: "I feel confident that the station's look will not be affected one iota.' " [Channel 7's work force now stands at 250. Ahern, who headed Channel 7 from 1985 to 1997, and Channel 2 from 2002 to 2008, is president of Rosebud Restaurants.]
  • "WMAQ-Channel 5 just signed political editor Dick Kay to a new, three-year contract. But the future appears less bright for Channel 5 veteran reporter Peter Nolan, whose contract isn't being renewed." [Kay retired from the NBC-owned station after 38 years in 2006. He now hosts a weekly talk show at 1 p.m. Saturdays on progressive talk WCPT-AM (820). Nolan, who lives in north suburban Glenview, recently wrote a tribute to Paul Beavers, the former Channel 5 news director who died April 10.]
  • "WBBM-Channel 2, beset by declining audience ratings and a black viewer boycott, yesterday named its third news director in nine months. Ron Kershaw, 42, a former producer at ABC News and NBC Sports and former news director at WNBC-TV in New York, will take command of the troubled Channel 2 newsroom in the next two weeks." [Kershaw, who was romantically linked to news anchors Jessica Savitch and Giselle Fernandez, died of pancreatic cancer in 1988 at age 44. Channel 2 general manager Johnathan Rodgers said at the time: "I do believe --  and the record shows -- that Ron was one of America's great news directors."]
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