Robservations on the media beat:
- Bill Leff has called it quits as host of‚ “ChicagoNow Radio” on Tribune Co.-owned news/talk WGN-AM (720). Starting this weekend, the Saturday morning showcase for bloggers on the Chicago Now roster will have a series of rotating hosts. Admittedly, I’ve never been a fan of the show, but Leff brought an engaging quality that made it more than just an infomercial for another Tribune venture. “I liked doing the show — it was a nice challenge,” Leff said. “To me, it was like a cocktail party where you’re talking to a new guest every half-hour. I thought that was pretty cool.” Alas, the money just wasn’t there to make it worthwhile. Still hoping for a full-time gig with WGN, Leff, 46, also is exploring other possibilities. Could one be a return to Roe Conn’s afternoon show on Citadel Broadcasting news/talk WLS-AM (890)?
- Another WGN weekend host on the move: Jerry Agar signed on this week as Monday-through-Friday midday personality at CFRB-AM, the leading news/talk station in Toronto. A native of Canada, Agar hosted middays at WLS for two years before he was bumped by Mancow Muller in 2008. A short time later, he was picked up for weekend work at WGN, which he reportedly is expected to continue.
- Jonathon Brandmeier is at it again. Two months after he caused a sensation with his music video parody “Johnny B. The Unemployed Radio Mo Fo,” the Chicago radio funnyman just released “Johnny B. on DVDs: Normal Movie-Goer.” (Here is the link.) Says Brandmeier: “Even though there’s a lot of talk about our next radio home, we remain unemployed.”
- Felicia Middlebrooks, morning anchor at CBS Radio all-news WBBM-AM (780), is filing reports this week from Haiti, where she’s traveling with a team of doctors from Hospitals for Humanity. (Her reports can be heard here.)
- Save the date: Lee Phillip Bell, known as “the first lady of Chicago television,” will be among the headliners at a salute to the pioneers of Chicago television June 11 at the Hilton Chicago. The event will benefit the Museum of Broadcast Communications. Bell’s groundbreaking talk shows here aired from 1952 to 1986. With her late husband, William J. Bell, she also co-created “The Young and the Restless” and “The Bold and the Beautiful” for CBS.
- Loni Taylor, who hosted afternoons for seven years at former smooth jazz WNUA, is back in the format as evening personality at Venture Technologies Group’s WLFM-FM (87.7). She most recently headed SayItCreatively, a free-lance commercial production company in Philadelphia. “It’s like Loni never left Chicago,” said Rick O’Dell, program director and midday host at WLFM. “She’s still intimately connected to things we like to do and talk about around here.”
- Esteban Creste, former vice president of news and news director at NBC/Telemundo’s WSNS-Channel 44, is out after 19 months as vice president of news at Telemundo’s KVEA-TV/KWHY-TV in Los Angeles. It ends his 17-year career with the Spanish-language network. In a note to his staff, Creste wrote: “Always be true to yourself and treat others with respect. Hasta siempre colegas.”
- Silvia Rivera has been hired as managing director of Chicago Public Radio’s WBEW-FM (89.5), otherwise known as Vocalo.org (home of this and other fine blogs). She most recently has been general manager of Radio Arte WRTE-FM (90.5), the Latino public radio service operated by the National Museum of Mexican Art in Pilsen. Wendy Turner, who had been general manager of Vocalo, was promoted to vice president of systems for Chicago Public Radio.