Ex-Tribune editor recalls "pressure' from Sam Zell

October 14, 2010

Robservations on the media beat:  


Sam Zell

  • Overshadowed by the frat house hijinks detailed in David Carr's New York Times opus on Tribune Co. last week was a potentially more damaging allegation -- that owner Sam Zell tried to use the Chicago Tribune to benefit his other business interests. Former editor Ann Marie Lipinski recalled a June 2008 meeting at which the billionaire mogul told her the newspaper should be harder on then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich. ("Don't be a pussy," she quoted Zell saying. "You can always be harder on him.") Later that day, she learned that Zell was negotiating to sell Wrigley Field to the state sports authority. Lipinski quit the following month. "It was hard to avoid the conclusion that he was trying to use the newspaper to put pressure on Blagojevich," said Lipinski, who's now a vice president at the University of Chicago. Though current Tribsters deny any influence from Zell, Capitol Fax editor Rich Miller isn't buying it. "It's just ridiculous," he says. "When are they ever going to come clean on this?"
  • Monday saw the return of one sports media writer and the disappearance of another. Jim O'Donnell, whose column was killed weeks before he was laid off last June from the Sun-Times, resurfaced in the Tribune with a story on the resignation of Arlington Park president Roy Arnold. "The Trib needed some stuff done, and I thought it was time to brush the cobwebs off the laptop," O'Donnell said. Meanwhile, Dale Bowman, whose free-lance sports media column debuted in the Sun-Times three weeks ago, was suddenly missing. Word is Bowman's column is "on hold" until issues involving O'Donnell's former staff position are resolved with the newspaper guild.
  • Last month, you'll recall, Marti Jones quit as afternoon traffic reporter on CBS Radio country WUSN-FM (99.5) to replace Maura Myles as morning news anchor on Citadel Broadcasting oldies WLS-FM (94.7). If things had worked out as originally planned, Myles would have taken over Jones' old job. But earlier this week, she turned down an offer from Metro Networks/Shadow Broadcast Services to concentrate full-time on mylesperhour, her commercial voice-over and production business. Now the leading candidate to join Drew Walker's US 99.5 afternoon show is Gina Ferraro.
  • "Horror on the Air: Frightful Moments on Radio & Television," a new online exhibit, has been unveiled just in time for Halloween by Chicago's Museum of Broadcast Communications. The frightfully fascinating site is billed as the first ever to explore the history of on-air horror programming. It features a foreword by Rich "Svengoolie" Koz and an introduction by curator David Plier, vice president of the museum.
  • It'll be a night of Chicago television nostalgia Saturday at The Book Market in Glenview's Glen Town Center. Starting with a reception at 7 p.m., the event will feature a presentation by historian Steve Jajkowski, author of Chicago Television, at 7:30 p.m., and a conversation with Rick Klein, curator of the online Museum of Classic Chicago Television, at 8:30 p.m. It's all free. (Here is the link for reservations.)
  • Winners of the 10th‚ annual Third Coast International Audio Festival will be honored for the best radio stories produced worldwide at a gala awards ceremony Oct. 30 in the ballroom of the School of the Art Institute. Nine prizes will be awarded in four categories, with excerpts played from each one. Hosts will be Jad Abumrad and Robert"¨ Krulwich of public radio's "Radiolab," with a music performance by Abraham Levitan. Tickets are $75. (Here is the link for information.)