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Another round of Robservations on the media beat:
- You can’t blame them for being a bit rusty after all these years, but Bill Kurtis and Walter Jacobson got off to a less than elegant start Wednesday as the new 6 p.m. anchor team on WBBM-Channel 2. Awkward pauses, missed cues and a few other moments of clumsy choreography marked an otherwise warm-hearted and low-key return to their old, familiar anchor roles. Whatever the motives of all involved, it’s good to see Bill & Walter back together — if only as an antidote to the rash of New Yorkers being inflicted on the CBS-owned station. Kurtis closed out the newscast on an oddly philosophical note:
“That is our first attempt to teach old dogs new tricks. And we can say that it’s good to be back. A lot of people have asked us: ‘Why do it again?’ Let me reach out to an old Greek, who said: ‘No man ever steps into the same river twice. For it’s not the same river — and he’s not the same man.’ ”
- Just how deep is the hole Kurtis and Jacobson find themselves in? Consider this: In August, top-rated ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7 enjoyed a 300 percent ratings advantage over‚ dead last Channel 2 at 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Three hundred percent. Not resting on its laurels, Channel 7 this week beefed up its 6 p.m. newscast, anchored by Alan Krashesky and Kathy Brock, with a daily “Intelligence Report” from chief investigative reporter Chuck Goudie. His I-Team reports continue to air at 10 p.m. Wednesdays as well. “I am delighted to return to the 6 p.m. news every day,” Goudie said. “There is so much happening across Chicago and around the world that the I-Team needs to have a daily reporting platform on ABC7‚ in addition to our presence at abc7chicago.com, on Facebook and Twitter.”
- Believe it or not, there’s even worse ratings news at Fox-owned WFLD-Channel 32: After one month on the air, the new “Good Day Chicago” anchor team of Anna Davlantes and Corey McPherrin has fallen off the face of the earth. Their numbers not only are down dramatically from a year ago (when the morning show was hosted by Jan Jeffcoat and David Novarro), but they have yet to hit a 1.0 rating in households or among adults between 25 and 54. Earlier this week, they drew an infinitesimal 0.3 — which could be an all-time low for the station. Plan B, anyone?
- Wednesday also marked the debut of former Chicago Tribune television critic Maureen Ryan as lead critic for AOL Television. Her new online column is called “Stay Tuned.” “I plan to keep writing the same kinds of stories you may be familiar with from my previous site ‚ — reviews, features, interviews, news and more,” she said. “There will also be weekly episodic recaps of ‘Mad Men,’ ‘Boardwalk Empire,’ ‘Supernatural’ and ‘Sons of Anarchy,’ and I may also start writing about ‘Game of Thrones’ weekly now.” Ryan left the Tribune last month after 13 years, saying she’d grown frustrated by the constraints of print.
- After four years as assistant program director/executive producer at news/talk WLS-AM (890), Tracy Slutzkin was promoted Wednesday to program director of the Citadel Broadcasting station. She reports to operations director Drew Hayes, who’s dividing his time between WLS and WMAL-AM in Washington, D.C. Slutzkin is on her second tour of duty at the station, having previously worked as producer of Don Wade and Roma’s morning show. She returned in 2006 after serving as planning editor and field producer at Channel 32. A graduate of Northwestern University, she began her career on the assignment desk at Channel 7. Michael Damsky, president and general manager of WLS, called the promotion “a reflection of the trust, confidence and respect Drew and I have in this exceptional colleague.”
- Fifty years to the day after John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon held the first televised presidential debate in Chicago, the event will be commemorated by the Museum of Broadcast Communications. Sander Vanocur, who was one of the questioners at the 1960 debate, will headline a panel at 3 p.m. Sept. 26 at the Union League Club of Chicago. Bill Kurtis will moderate the discussion, also featuring former Kennedy aide Newton Minow and historian/alderman Ed Burke. Tickets are $50. (Here is the link to order tickets.)