- Scoring a live, in-studio interview with billionaire mogul Sam Zell seemed like quite a coup for WBBM-Channel 2’s “Monsters and Money in the Morning” last Friday. Unfortunately, the four hosts of the CBS-owned station’s fledgling morning show — Mike North, Dan Jiggetts, Terry Savage and Mike Hegedus — blew it. While Zell sat around the table with them for more than 40 minutes, none of the hosts asked a single question about his troubled stewardship of the bankrupt Tribune Co. or about how the Chicago Tribune has fared since he took over. Not one. Had Zell put the subject off limits? Absolutely not, insisted North, who took full blame for the lapse. “It was my fault,” he later told me. “I was supposed to ask about the Cubs and Tribune, and I didn’t… . I called an audible and screwed it up.”
- Speaking of media tycoons, Jim Tyree, the Mesirow CEO who rescued the Chicago Sun-Times and its parent company, remains optimistic despite the bad business model newspapers have been saddled with. “We’re not out of the woods,” he told a group at Saint Xavier University last week. “It’ll take a little time, but we’re confident that the Sun-Times Media Group will be successful.”
- What about Mark? Reader comments to the postmortem here on Tuesday night’s primary coverage prompted a spirited rebuttal over the weekend from Mark Suppelsa, principal news anchor at Tribune Co.-owned WGN-Channel 9. In case you missed it, here’s part of what Suppelsa wrote:
“In reading Mr. Feder’s blog and the responses from his ardent blog followers, I feel many missed an opportunity to get what the above “strut2k” and others say they missed election night: The Big 9. In this day when you have to ask for a raise or ask people with a TV clicker in their hands to sample your product … I’m forced to ask, ‘What about me?’ If you had TIVO’d us you’d have watched more than 5‚½ hours of coverage solely on the election with a pace and tone that wasn’t scripted, nor rushed and more often than not, we heard insightful and on-the-mark with results, speeches and analysis. And during our prime hour of coverage from 9p to 10p, I believe the TV viewers responded in kind with better than a 6 rating as we competed against this season’s unusually popular prime time programming. And I’m told there several hundred thousand hits on our election page at wgntv.com including our record for time spent watching our coverage streaming online. So … next time Feder readers, what about me?”
- Dick Lobo, who served as president and general manager of NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5 from 1985 to 1988, may be headed for a job in the Obama Administration in Washington, D.C. His appointment to head the International Broadcasting Bureau (overseeing Voice of America and Radio/TV Marti) awaits U.S. Senate confirmation. Lobo, 73, most recently has been running WEDU-TV, the public television station in Tampa, Fla.
- Two Chicago natives who became notable figures in the media industry died last week: Frank N. Magid, the television research consultant whose name was synonymous with the homogenization of local newscasts across the country, died of cancer Friday in Santa Barbara, Calif., at 78. Cecil Heftel, the former congressman from Hawaii whose Heftel Broadcasting owned WLUP-FM (97.9) in its formative years from 1979 to 1986, died of natural causes Thursday in San Diego at 85.
- Herb Kent, whose 65 years in Chicago radio landed him in the Guinness Book of Records, will be honored tonight at the annual membership meeting of Chicago chapter of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. I can only hope “The Cool Gent” gets treated better than last year’s AFTRA honoree.