Robservations on the media beat:
- Jake Hartford soon may be right back where he started — on news/talk WLS-AM (890). The veteran Chicago radio personality, who hosted Saturday mornings for more than 10 years on the Citadel Broadcasting station (until he was ousted in a cost-cutting move in 2008), is weighing an offer to return to WLS. If everything works out, Hartford could be back in his old slot by early April. He currently hosts “Awake with Jake” from 7 to 11 a.m. Saturdays on Newsweb Radio progressive talk WCPT-AM (820). Hartford, whose real name is Jim Edwards, was a producer at CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2 for 16 years, including 10 years as top investigative producer for Walter Jacobson. He began working at WLS in 1991 under program director Drew Hayes, who recently rejoined the station as operations director.
- NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5 launched a new blog Monday focusing on nine high-profile politicians in Illinois. Illustrated by the Sun-Times’ Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Jack Higgins, “Ward Room” will follow the antics of Mayor Richard Daley, Gov. Pat Quinn, Illinois Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk, former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, and Chicago aldermen Toni Preckwinkle, Sandi Jackson and Ricardo Munoz. It will be written by free-lance reporter and author Edward McClelland, with contributions from Channel 5’s Carol Marin, Mary Ann Ahern and Phil Rogers. As the inaugural post on nbcchicago.com explained:
“We’ve chosen nine politicians whom we believe are the strongest influencers, or show the most promise, and we’ll cover them exclusively… . For now, this list is static, but we intend for it to change as major events dictate. If Blagojevich is convicted, for example, and heads to the pokey and out of sight, we’ll drop him. Conversely, if Bill Brady makes it a close race for the statehouse, we’ll begin covering him more closely.”
- As tipped here two weeks ago (Comment No. 12), Joanie Lum has been hired as a reporter at WFLD-Channel 32. She’ll turn up on the Fox-owned station’s “Good Day Chicago” morning show, starting April 19. Lum previously spent six years at Channel 2 and 15 years at Tribune Co.-owned WGN-Channel 9.‚ She’s worked for news director Carol Fowler at all three stations.
- Although it’s hardly what you’d call a ringing vote of confidence, Steve Cochran’s contract has been extended through the end of June at Tribune Co.-owned news/talk WGN-AM (720). His most recent deal was to have expired at the beginning of March. Cochran’s future as the station’s afternoon personality has been in doubt ever since program director Kevin “Pig Virus” Metheny told him on the air: “I like you. I just don’t like your show.”
- Roxanne Steele is out after six months as afternoon personality at CBS Radio adult contemporary WCFS-FM (105.9), reports the ever-vigilant ChicagolandRadioandMedia.com. Steele previously spent 12 years at CBS Radio rhythmic Top 40 WBBM-FM (96.3).
- Suzanne Rico, former weekend news anchor and reporter at ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7, has been dropped after eight years as morning news anchor at KCBS-TV in Los Angeles. She was among numerous staffers affected by the latest round of cost-cutting at the CBS station.
- Former WGN news director Wes Bleed, who was fired last April after 25 years at the station, has joined Mack Communications, a Chicago-based public affairs and public relations firm, as vice president. Bleed most recently headed communications for Kirk Dillard’s Republican gubernatorial campaign.
- Kathy O’Malley and Judy Markey, the former WGN midday duo whose abrupt ouster after 20 years last May still sticks in the craw of their fans, will reunite April 29 when they headline a scholarship fundraiser for the Rockford Network of Professional Women. They’ll talk about their transition since leaving the station and “how women can learn from their experience.” Tickets for the event at Giovanni’s in Rockford are $50, including dinner. (Here is the link for additional information.)