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News & Notes: Dan McNeil; North & Jiggetts; Lauren Jiggetts; WMAQ-TV; Vicki Burns; Paul Barsky; Bob Stern; Fearless Radio

Today's Chicago media News & Notes has eight news items, including: the temporary departure of Dan McNeil; the return of Mike North & Dan Jiggetts; Lauren Jiggetts is Today's Chicago Woman; WMAQ-TV unveils its new set & graphics; Vicki Burns is looking for new work; Paul Barsky has found new work; Bob Stern's Vinyl Schminyl Radio gets a big guest; and Fearless Radio will soon be seen as well as heard. All of the details are just below...

* * WSCR-AM's midday sports talk host Dan McNeil has been out on a personal leave of absence from the station since Monday, February 27th. The absence could potentially be an extended one. Nobody at The Score or CBS Radio Chicago is willing to speak officially to the reason behind the sudden departure of McNeil, other than to say "Danny Mac" is out for personal "health and wellness" reasons and they wish him well. It has also been said that it is not a suspension and not a contract dispute. While there are numerous Internet rumors as to the exact reasons behind McNeil's being away from the station, most likely it will not be publicly discussed until McNeil is ready and able to return to the airwaves to talk about it himself. Exactly when he will be ready and able to return to WSCR-AM is the big question right now.


* * As first mentioned HERE last month, Mike North & Dan Jiggetts, the former WSCR-AM "Monsters of the Midday," will be reuniting for a special live event this coming Thursday night. The Monsters 20th Anniversary Special will take place March 8th at the Million Room Restaurant, located inside Arlington Park Racetrack. Some of the many special guests have been announced, and they include former WSCR-AM sports talkers Mike Murphy and Fred Huebner, Chicago sports superstars Eddie Olczyk, Steve McMichael and Jim "Jimbo" Covert, plus longtime Mike North pal Fritzi. They are also holding a contest at the event, where the winner can get $1,000 of Mike North's money with the Monsters College Basketball Final Four Contest. To win, pick the actual Final Four teams, plus the NCAA Tournament winner. (No purchase necessary. The entry form with the complete rules will be provided at event.) A few tickets to the Monsters reunion are still available and can be purchased at this link HERE. Additionally, you can catch a video of a mini-reunion of North & Jiggets on video HERE, as Mike North joined Dan Jiggetts on WFLD-TV's newscast over the weekend to discuss this upcoming event.


* * Speaking of Dan Jiggetts, his lovely daughter Lauren Jiggetts, who also is a top general assignment reporter at WMAQ-TV, is the cover model for the brand new March issue of Today's Chicago Woman. She is featured inside the issue as one of Chicago's "60 Chicagoans of Style." Other local media personalities considered by the magazine to be stylish Chicagoans include WLS-TV's Jim Rose, Chicago Sun-Times/WFLD-TV's Bill Zwecker, WMAQ-TV's Marcus Riley, food & sports TV show host DC Crenshaw, Johnson Publishing's Linda Johnson Rice & Desiree Rogers, and former WBBM-TV/WLS-TV General Manager Joe Ahern. The March TCW issue is available now at local retailers.


* * WMAQ-TV unveiled its new set and graphics last week. It is the first major set change for NBC5 since 2008. The new news set, designed by Clickspring Design, features a contemporary-style glass-topped desk for the news & sports anchors, a stand-up area at the main desk for meteorologists and reporters, a large separate desk for the NBC5 Weather Center with an adjacent green screen for forecasts, a giant touch screen board (similar to CNN's touch screen monitors), a changing backdrop of the city skyline behind the main desk on nine monitors, and a back-lit wall. The much brighter set features a few different color schemes, with blues, brown wood, and silvers (from metal sections and paint) almost always visible. Most of the NBC-owned stations are seeing new sets built this year. Additionally, all NBC-owned stations have received dramatic new graphics and music packages, which WMAQ-TV began using last week in connection with the new set. As is the case every single time a station changes its news set or graphics package, public reactions to the new WMAQ-TV upgrades are mixed.


* * Former Chicago News Director Vicki Burns is out of job as of the end of last week. She "voluntarily" quit her job as News Director at Los Angeles' KNBC-TV/NBC4, after having a serious conference with her bosses Valari Staab, the President of NBC Owned Television Stations, and Steve Carlston, the General Manager of NBC4. After well under two years at the station, results were less than spectacular and numerous employee complaints came up due to her often-abrasive management style. Burns, a Chicago native, has worked at WBBM-TV (where she got her start), WLS-TV, and most of all, WMAQ-TV, where she was News Director from 1998-2003, and an Assistant News Director before that. She has worked with Phyllis Schwartz, the new News Director at WFLD-TV a few times in the past, leaving some to wonder if Burns wouldn't be looking at coming back to Chicago to work with her again, but in a lesser role than News Director. In her goodbye memo to her NBC4 staffers last week, Burns hinted that she wanted to return back to her "roots," maybe to Chicago.


* * Former Chicago radio host Paul Barsky has added a new city to his ever-growing resume. He is the new afternoon drive host of West Palm Beach, FL's WFTL-AM, serving the Ft. Lauderdale/Palm Beach/Miami markets. He had been looking for work since losing his job at Dallas sports talker KRLD-FM last November. Barsky worked in Chicago in the mid-80s on WLS-FM/WYTZ-FM, including hosting the popular "Barsky's Morning Zoo."


* * Vinyl Schminyl Radio, the daily classic rock podcast hosted by former Chicagoland DJ Bob Stern, has two big reasons to smile. The first is that the show was able to snag a long, exclusive interview with Chicago rocker Billy Corgan (Smashing Pumpkins, Zwan). The special 60-minute interview has Corgan talking about his favorite songs, fellow guitarists, the Pumpkins, and growing up in the Chicago area. The podcast was just posted up yesterday and can be heard HERE. The second bit of good news is that the Vinyl Schminyl Radio shows can now be found on iTunes. It can be subscribed to for free by clicking on this link HERE.


* * Chicago-based Internet radio station Fearless Radio has announced that it will be launching a new video channel stream featuring a live studio feed which will run along with the Fearless Radio audio stream. The video channel will also deliver on demand video content & video podcasts, video chat access for subscribers, and mobile access. Additionally, there will be a paywall to view some exclusive premium music & interview content for Fearless Radio subscribers. The radio station is expecting to have the new video channel ready by June 1st. More information can be found on the Fearless Radio website, FearlessRadio.com.


CRM Website Information

The Chicagoland Radio & Media website (abbreviated as CRM) is a celebration of all things relating to Chicago-area media matters. CRM is a news source, a location for fans to voice their opinions, and an online museum of Chicago media's past and present, with a hopeful eye to its future. For the visitors, readers, and fans of the website, CRM is a both a resource and a release, both educational and an escape, and both factual and fun.

If it has a connection to Chicago area radio, television, print, and/or other forms of media -- information on it can be found here at ChicagolandRadioAndMedia.com!