Robservations on the media beat:
- Alison Cuddy has been named full-time solo host of “Eight Forty-Eight,” the weekday morning newsmagazine on Chicago Public Media WBEZ-FM (91.5), effective Aug. 1. A nine-year veteran of the station, Cuddy most recently has been co-hosting “Eight Forty-Eight” with Richard Steele. She previously served as producer of “Chicago Matters” and “Odyssey.” Steele will “continue to play a key role with ‘Eight Forty-Eight’ and WBEZ,” according to Sally Eisele, managing editor of public affairs. Chicago Public Media also is the parent company of blogs.vocalo.org.
- On the subject of the home team, five members of the vocalo.org production staff were laid off Thursday in a budget cutback tied to the end of the fiscal year. Their positions were in the training and outreach area of the community-based audio service. Seven full-time staffers continue with the unit. WBEZ and the Vocalo blog network were not affected by the cuts. Torey Malatia, president and CEO of Chicago Public Media, said in a statement:
“Vocalo is designed to be a multiplatform — web, radio, community — public media brand. This past year, our investments in the blog network led to increased traffic and interest in the website. This coming year (FY 2011) our investments are aimed at the Vocalo broadcast. The goal, under managing director Silvia Rivera’s direction, is to create a dynamic broadcast that draws a sizable audience, and we will soon have some exciting updates to report on that front. On-air production teams will continue to build meaningful relationships in our community. However, during the next year, we’ll emphasize less training and post-produce lower amounts of user-generated content, in order to fully invest in the broadcast. To that end, five training and outreach positions at Vocalo, which are currently filled, have been eliminated.”
- Buddy Scott, the veteran radio programmer who launched WBBM-FM (96.3) as a contemporary-hit station in 1982 and served as program director of B96 for eight years, has returned to CBS Radio in Chicago. On Thursday, he was named program director of country WUSN-FM (99.5), succeeding Bill Gamble, who exited last March. Scott, who took a buyout as senior vice president of programming for Clear Channel Communications in 2006, most recently has been living in southwest suburban Plainfield and working as programming consultant. Rod Zimmerman, senior vice president and market manager for CBS Radio Chicago, said of Scott: “His experience, leadership, skill set, and passion for the format make him the perfect choice to lead WUSN to new levels of success. He also knows Chicago radio and has long considered the area home.” Zimmerman said he has temporarily shelved plans to hire a vice president of programming for the market.
- The hiring of Chicago broadcast veteran Bob Sirott as top news anchor at WFLD-Channel 32 was roundly denied to staffers by bosses of the Fox-owned station when it was first tipped here May 7. Now that Sirott’s return to the station is reported to be “imminent,” won’t it be interesting to see how general manager Mike Renda and news director Carol Fowler try to spin the news to their staff and the media?
- Carol Marin is too young to have made Nixon’s Enemies List (she was only 23 at the time of Watergate), but she may have scored the next-best badge of honor: At the trial of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich this week, an FBI wiretap tape was played in which Blago said of Marin:‚ “I hate her. I hate her.” The veteran Chicago journalist, who was in the courtroom at the time, was later approached by the defendant with an apology. Marin assured him that no apology was necessary.
- More great news for fans of ’50s crime dramas: In addition to bringing back Lee Marvin’s “M Squad,” Weigel Broadcasting’s Me-Too has just resurrected Broderick Crawford’s “Highway Patrol.” The classic cop show, which originally ran in syndication from 1955 to 1959, will air in back-to-back episodes from 8 to 9 p.m. Saturdays — between double runs of “Dragnet” and “M Squad” — on Me-Too (seen over the air on Channel 48, with a digital tuner and antenna on WCIU-TV 26.3, and on Comcast 247, RCN 22, WOW 171 and AT&T U-verse 48). Neal Sabin, executive vice president of Weigel Broadcasting, noted:
“Adding ‘Highway Patrol’ as a companion to ‘M Squad’ and ‘Dragnet’ on the Saturday night Me-Too schedule was an easy decision. All three shows feature iconic, hard-boiled cops from the early years of TV crime dramas. Both ‘M Squad’ and ‘Highway Patrol’ were fixtures at WGN for years and well known to long time Chicagoans.”
- Bonnie Barnes is out after 20 years with Chicagoland Radio Information Service, the nonprofit reading service for the blind and disabled. On the eve of CRIS Radio’s 30th‚ anniversary, her position as program director was eliminated in a budget cutback. The Chicago Lighthouse, which has been overseeing the service for the last five years, has assigned broadcast veteran Bill Jurek to double duty as program manager of CRIS Radio and “The Beacon,” the public-affairs show he hosts at 4 p.m. Saturdays on Newsweb Radio progressive talk WCPT-AM (820).
- Steve Carver, the former Chicago radio executive who signed on last January as CBS Radio senior vice president and market manager in Cleveland, is on the move again. He was just named to the same position in West Palm Beach, Fla. Carver had been vice president and general manager of Tribune Co.-owned news/talk WGN-AM (720) from 1998 to 2003, after five years in the same capacity at CBS Radio all-news WBBM-AM (780).
- A tip of the hat to John Dempsey, morning news anchor on Citadel Broadcasting news/talk WLS-AM (890), who marked the 25th‚ anniversary of his start on Chicago radio this week. The Chicago native joined WBEZ as a news anchor and talk show host on July 1, 1985, and later worked for the former WMAQ and for Channel 32.