Feder's Chicago media flashback: July 1989 | WBEZ
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Feder's Chicago media flashback: July 1989

An assortment of news items (updated and annotated) from my Chicago Sun-Times columns of 21 years ago this week:

  • "Mark Giangreco, 36, whose contract as WMAQ-Channel 5's top sports anchor expires in November, may be in the most enviable position of his career. While his bosses at the NBC-owned station are eager to keep Giangreco, he also is being wooed by both WBBM-Channel 2 and WLS-Channel 7. "Forms of interest are being expressed at multiple places,' said his agent, attorney Joel Weisman." [It would take another five years, but Giangreco finally was lured to Channel 7 in 1994 with a multimillion-dollar deal making him the highest paid Chicago sportscaster of all time --  and bumping 17-year veteran Tim Weigel (who eventually moved to Channel 2, where he worked until his death in 2001). Now in his 28th year in the market, Giangreco is still the No. 1 sports anchor at Chicago's top-rated ABC-owned station.]
  • "WGN-AM (720), by far the highest-rated and most profitable radio station in Chicago, soon may be seeking an FM outlet for its programming and commercials. Although FCC rules prohibit Tribune Co. from acquiring an FM station here, the bosses of Tribune-owned WGN apparently believe they could simulcast their infotainment format over FM facilities owned by another unspecific company. "It's an intriguing notion,' said WGN general manager Dan Fabian." [Nothing ever came of the feasibility study conducted by sales director Robert Sparr and program director Lorna Gladstone. But lately the idea has been revived by current management of the station. In an on-air appearance last month, WGN program director Kevin Metheny told listeners:
"Obviously, we'd like to own or at least program more radio stations. We think that we have the beef with which to do that. We have several plans in the drawer waiting to be dusted off. But it's not just as simple as decide [sic] that you want to do it. . . . There's more to it than that, but it's a great idea. We'd like to have another AM and a handful of FMs."
  • "Right from the start, WGN-Channel 9 news anchor Pat Harvey felt at home during her weeklong stint as guest "news reader' on Australian television. "I found it all to be so similar to what we do here,' said Harvey, 34, who filled in earlier this month on Brisbane's Channel 10 while one of the station's regular readers was in Asia." [The popular and personable Harvey left Channel 9 after four years in late 1989 to join KCAL-TV in Los Angeles. After 20 years there, she shifted last April to KCBS-TV, where she now anchors the 5 and 11 p.m. newscasts with Paul Magers, younger brother of Chicago's Ron Magers.]
  • "Warner Saunders, 54, a 21-year veteran of Chicago TV, will drop his role as Channel 5 sportscaster to become Joan Esposito's 4 p.m. news co-anchor, starting Aug. 14." [Saunders, who also worked as a talk show host, community affairs director, public school teacher, youth worker and boys club director, spent another 20 years as a news anchor at Channel 5 before he retired in 2009. Esposito left Channel 5 in 1999. With business partner Jim Lichtenstein, she co-founded the media training and consulting firm J2 Strategic Communications.]
  • "Drew Hayes, former morning and midday talk host at WMAQ-AM (670), has been hired as program director of WLS-AM (890). Along with new general manager Tom Tradup, Hayes is expected to launch a talk format at the Captial Cities/ABC-owned station around Labor Day. Once described here as "destined for greatness," Hayes, 31, most recently was program director of WKRC-AM in Cincinnati." [Tradup and Hayes kicked off the new talk format at WLS on Aug. 23, 1989, and led it successfully for the next seven years. Tradup now is vice president of news and talk programming for Salem Communications' Salem Radio Network. Hayes, who later held programming positions at ESPN Radio Network, KABC-AM in Los Angeles and CBS Radio here, returned to WLS as operations director last January.]
  • "Jonathan Towers, a Chicago bureau correspondent for CNN, has resigned to pursue independent production plans. The three-year veteran of the cable network is expected to file occasional reports for CNN on a free-lance basis." [With an investment of $10,000, Towers founded Chicago-based Towers Productions later that year and turned it into one of the nation's leading documentary television producers. Among the independent production company's major successes were A&E's "American Justice" with Bill Kurtis and "Biography," two of the longest-running series in cable history.]

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