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Welcome to the first edition of Robservations — a midday bonus of items on the media beat:
- Paul Harvey, the Chicago-based radio giant who died last February, had a 20-year secret friendship with FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, documents just released under the Freedom of Information Act show. The Washington Post reports that Harvey often submitted advance copies of his radio scripts to Hoover, who in turn “helped Harvey with research, suggested changes in scripts and showered the broadcaster with effusive praise.” Hoover died in 1972, but Harvey reportedly maintained his close ties to the FBI.
- Norman Goldman, a Los Angeles-based attorney who doubles as a syndicated talk show host, has been picked up by Newsweb Radio progressive talk WCPT-AM (820). His show will replace canceled Air America talker Ron Reagan from 5 to 8 p.m. WCPT is simulcast on WCPY-FM (92.5) and WCPT-FM (92.7) and WCPQ-FM (99.9).
- How much was the Jay Leno fiasco costing NBC affiliates? A report in the Wall Street Journal Monday said NBC stations in the top 20 markets stood to lose $772,000 a week if Leno stayed on at 9 p.m. because of lower ratings for local newscasts that followed his show. In Chicago, 10 p.m. news ratings for NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5 in November were down 32.4 percent compared with the previous November, resulting in an average weekly revenue decline of $97,124, according to estimates from Harmelin Media.
- Chicago Helps Haiti, last Thursday’s day-long fundraising drive by the Chicago broadcasting and print media community, raised $2,962,391 in aid for the American Red Cross relief effort. More than 18,000 calls were logged. The effort was spearheaded by Steve Robinson, executive vice president for radio and project development at Window to the World Communications, parent company of classical WFMT-FM (98.7). Emily Barr, president and general manager of ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7, said:
“As broadcasters, we are so gratified at the outpouring of support from people all over Chicagoland.‚ Steve Robinson once again did a wonderful job organizing all of us so we could use our collective voice to raise these critically needed funds.”
- Bob Shomper, whose 13-month tenure as program director at Citadel Broadcasting news/talk WLS-AM (890) abruptly ended Friday, shared a gracious farewell. Saying he wished his former colleagues “nothing but the best,” Shomper added:
“I respect the fact that sometimes in business a new general manager will want to make a fresh start with his own hires. I’m very proud of the accomplishments that the team has made at WLS, and I’m looking forward to what the future brings. It’s been an honor to have had the opportunity to work at one of America’s great radio stations.”
- Metrolingua media blogger Margaret Larkin posted a profile Monday of the elusive Larz, proprietor of the ever-vigilant ChicagolandRadioandMedia.com. “It’s a labor of love, pure and simple,” Larz said of his recently expanded site. “It may open up some doors for me down the line, but regardless, I don’t do any of it because of money.”
- Shirley Bell Cole, the Chicago actress who starred as “Little Orphan Annie” on radio in the 1930s, died Jan. 12. She was 89. “Little Orphan Annie,” which originated from WGN, was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1990. Cole herself inducted old-time radio guru and former “Those Were the Days” host Chuck Schaden into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1993.