Robservations on the media beat:
- The closing of WGN-Channel 9’s employee cafeteria, the beloved “Cafe Nueve,” was treated sarcastically — and hilariously — as a full-blown media event Thursday on the Tribune Co.-owned station’s morning show. (Here is the link.) But it was hardly the biggest news of the day at 2501 W. Bradley Place. In a further consolidation of the station and CLTV, Marty Wilke, vice president and general manager of Channel 9, was given oversight responsibility for the cable news channel. Steve Farber, who had been CLTV’s general manager, was named vice president/operations for both outlets. “The WGN/CLTV partnership has already strengthened our position as Chicago’s local news leader across all platforms,” Wilke said in a statement. “There is a lot more opportunity ahead as we work together to build these great brands.” Staffers are bracing for more layoffs as Tribune Co. bosses regionalize their station operations.
- One of Farber’s first tasks in his new role managing special projects for Tribune Broadcasting’s station group could involve launching a television talk show for radio provocateur Mancow Muller. Details are sketchy, but insiders say studio space at Channel 9 has been reserved to tape a pilot, which would feature a live audience and a format similar to “The Jerry Springer Show.” In a rare display of discretion, Muller declined to comment on anything involving Tribune Co. — including unsourced rumors that he’s under consideration for a role with news/talk WGN-AM (720). WGN general manager Tom Langmyer dismissed the rumors, which first turned up this week on the ever-vigilant Chicagoland Radio and Media website.
- Speaking of WGN-AM, there’s a new Facebook page dedicated to the station’s program director titled “WGN Radio: Fire Kevin Metheny.” Here’s how the group is described: “Kevin Metheny is destroying what was Chicago’s best radio station. He’s hiring people like Jim Laski and ignoring the in-house talent like Nick Digilio and Brian Noonan. By joining this group you are stating that you do not agree with the insane decisions that Mr. Metheny is making and you would like to see him gone.” But wait, here’s the best part: Of the 28 members who’d signed up as of Thursday, one of them was — believe it or not — Kevin Metheny.
- It’s official: Newsweb Radio progressive talk WCPT-AM (820) is a 24-hour station, thanks to Federal Communications Commission approval this week. As of Thursday, the former daytimer began broadcasting at night, with its signal strongest in the southwest suburbs. Overnight programming includes rebroadcasts of syndicated hosts Stephanie Miller at 9 p.m., Ed Schultz at 11 p.m., Bill Press at midnight, and Thom Hartmann at 2 a.m. For listeners outside of WCPT’s nighttime coverage area, the station also can be heard online at ChicagosProgressiveTalk.com.
- Chicago writer Cate Plys delivers an insightful profile of multimedia dynamo Roland Martin in the current issue of Time Out Chicago. In less than four years, Martin parlayed his editorship of a moribund newspaper, the Chicago Defender, into a high-profile national role as a CNN political analyst, TV One host and regular on “The Tom Joyner Morning Show.” Of Martin’s three years at the Defender, Plys writes:
“Martin redesigned the paper, shifted coverage to hot-button issues in the black community, created promotional campaigns and set up the Defender’s first website. He left the paper in 2007, after making it profitable for the first time since the early ’80s. ‘When I ran the Chicago Defender, the reason I could be risky — we ain’t made money in 20 years! Nobody was readin’ the damn paper!’ he says, sliding as he often does from formal newscaster English to animated vernacular.”
- An array of rock ‘n’ roll royalty will join the immortal Dick Biondi from 7 p.m. to midnight Sunday when he celebrates the 50th‚ anniversary of his debut on Chicago radio. Luminaries on the lineup include Brenda Lee, Carl Giamarese, Frankie Avalon, Gene Chandler, Gary Puckett, Tommy James, Tony Orlando, Lou Christie, Bobby Vinton, Freddy Cannon, Jim “Hook” Pilster and Ronnie Rice. Also expected to stop by is Gov. Pat Quinn. The live special will be simulcast on Citadel Broadcasting news/talk WLS-AM (890) and oldies WLS-FM (94.7). It’s not too late to leave your own message of congratulations to Biondi at (312) 984-5350.
- Tallgrass Broadcasting, the Hoffman Estates-based radio company co-owned by Chicago television icon Bill Kurtis, has gone into receivership in order to restructure its debt and operations. Kurtis was quoted as calling the move “good news, and a positive step for the stations considering the current economic climate.” Tallgrass owns radio stations in Kansas, Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.