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Robservations on the media beat:
- Journalism jobs were scarce in 1978 — especially after the Chicago Daily News folded, putting scores of seasoned writers and editors out of work. So the startup of a slick new magazine catering to the North Shore elite later that year came as welcome news to us Medill grads just hitting the job market. While I didn’t accept the offer from founding publisher Asher Birnbaum to work for North Shore magazine, I’ve been a faithful subscriber and reader ever since. Birnbaum, who’d made a fortune selling his first magazine, Tennis, to The New York Times Company, wound up selling North Shore to the parent company of the Chicago Sun-Times in 1997. Monday’s news that Sun-Times Media had sold North Shore for an undisclosed price to Susan Noyes’ MakeItBetter.net reminded me of how much better the magazine used to be — before it was stripped of the resources, staff and commitment to compete in the big leagues editorially. The latest issue took about two minutes to peruse.
- This weekend’s celebration of Dick Biondi’s 50th‚ anniversary on the air in Chicago just got 50,000 watts bigger: The live special from 7 p.m. to midnight Sunday will air not only on Citadel Broadcasting oldies WLS-FM (94.7), where Biondi still holds forth every weeknight, but also on news/talk sister station WLS-AM (890). Biondi was among the stars who launched the Top 40 format on WLS-AM on May 2, 1960. Fans are invited to leave voice-mail messages of congratulations to Biondi at (312) 984-5350. In conjunction with the 50th‚ anniversary salute, Scott Childers is adding new features and additional enhancements to his website at WLSHistory.com. Childers is the author of Chicago’s WLS Radio, published in 2008 by Arcadia Publishing.
- NBC News anchor Lester Holt, who spent 14 years at CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2, will be back in town Wednesday to moderate a town hall meeting on civil rights with Marion Brooks, news anchor at NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5. Holt and Brooks will host “Finishing the Dream” from the DuSable Museum of African American History. Panelists will include the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Carol Adams, Father Michael Pfleger, Conrad Worrill, Cliff Kelley, Hermene Hartman, Dorothy Tillman, Chandra Gill and the Rev. Leon Finney. Channel 5 will air the event as a one-hour special at 8 a.m. May 30 and again at 4:30 p.m. May 31.
- A recent item here about the arrest of Vincent P. Falk in connection with bomb threats at ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7 prompted a followup by Chicagoist.com on the man known for wearing Technicolor suits and spinning around on Chicago bridges and at the end of local newscasts. Falk, who’s the subject of the documentary “Vincent: A Life in Color,” told Karl Klockars he was detained by police April 9 and released without charges. Insiders say that’s little comfort to those who work in the ABC Building at 190 N. State.
- In another followup to a recent item here, Byron Harlan, who left Fox-owned WFLD-Channel 32 after 13 years as weekend news anchor, has landed as an investment advisor representative with the Premier Wealth Group, an office of MetLife in west suburban Downers Grove. He’d been unable to disclose the name of the firm until now.
- Bob Ramsey, former station manager and program director at Tribune Co.-owned WGN-Channel 9, has resigned as vice president and general manager of KTXL-TV in Sacramento, Calif. It marks the end of a 17-year career with Tribune Co. for the Chicago native, including a stint as VP/GM at KSWB-TV in San Diego. Ramsey, 53, told friends he plans to “take some time off and do some traveling, relaxing and then get back at it.”