Published on Tuesday, 25 September 2012 18:12
Today's News & Notes features ten stories from the Chicago radio world, including: Merlin Media up for grabs; JoAnn Genette up all night; Michele Fiore up in Milwaukee; La Ley joins TuneIn; Eddie & Jobo help give out shots (not the alcohol type); Bo Reynolds back on the air; Stu Evans back off the air; Gwen Ihnat teaches another radio seminar; Shannon Beverly gets hitched; and get well wishes for Ted Novak. It can all be read below.
* * In what has been expected for many weeks, it would appear that Chicago-based private investment company GTCR, who last summer, invested $8 billion in start-up radio corporation Merlin Media, LLC, has had enough of waiting for the investment to pan out. In the last year, Merlin Media has purchased four radio stations in three markets, taken over the programming and sales of a fifth station, and poured multi-millions of dollars into upgrading these radio stations. After over a year of staggering financial losses, stunningly low ratings (with the exception of Chicago's 97.9 The Loop, an established brand which has stayed fairly strong), and not nearly enough revenue to sustain the stations and staff, the investment firm is preparing to end the failed experiment, led by controversial CEO Randy Michaels. According to insiders, the recent plan was to oust Michaels from the CEO role this month and replace him with a temporary CEO, who would prepare the stations for a sale. Right now, Michaels remains with the company, but word is the four radio stations are all being shopped around regardless -- as a whole package or separately by market. Locally, Merlin Media owns WLUP-FM and WIQI-FM. GTCR retains an approximate 79% interest in the company, with Emmis Communications owning approximately 20%, and Randy Michaels just 1%. A spokesperson for GTCR declined to comment, saying it is their policy to not discuss these type of matters publicly.
* * That familiar voice you hear on overnights and weekends on WBBM-AM/Newsradio 780 belongs to none other than JoAnn Genette. The former WIQI-FM/FM News 101.1 anchor/reporter has been hired as the station's newest part-time news anchor. Genette has been working in Chicago radio for over a decade and a half. She has been heard delivering news and/or traffic reports on WLIT-FM, WLUP-FM, WXXY-FM, and WCBR-FM. She may be best remembered as the morning news/traffic personality and co-host for WKSC-FM's morning show for well over seven years with DreX. She also worked briefly as the host of west-suburban WBIG-AM's "The Big Wake Up Call."
* * Speaking of WBBM-AM... Reporter Michele Fiore, who has been a reporter and anchor with Newsradio 780 since 2001, has picked up another job. In addition to her radio role in Chicago, those of you up in Milwaukee can see Fiore on WTMJ-TV/TMJ4. Last week, she began on the air there as a reporter.
* * Spanish Broadcasting System, Inc. (SBS), the owner of 21 radio stations nationwide and in Puerto Rico, has signed up to allow the TuneIn radio app to stream all of their radio stations. This includes Chicago's WLEY-FM/La Ley 107.9. SBS's COO Albert Rodriguez said in a statement: "As we transform into a digital media company, SBS is extending its great local brands to as many digital platforms as possible to seamlessly provide our audience with the programming they want where and when they want it. TuneIn leads the industry with their listener-first approach to everything they do, and we are excited to offer our broadcasts to the growing and vastly important digital audience, especially as it pertains to the mobile and automotive worlds, into which TuneIn has made great strides."
* * WJMK-FM/104.3 K-Hits morning show hosts Eddie & Jobo will be attending a very special event at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) tomorrow evening. The UIC College of Pharmacy is encouraging people to stay healthy by getting a flu shot. Wednesday, from 5:30pm-7:30pm, influenza vaccinations will be done at the UIC Student Recreation Facility (737 S. Halsted St., Chicago). The vaccination is only $15, and the event is open to the public (ages 14 and older). Those who receive a flu shot will be able to meet Eddie and Jobo, receive an autograph from them, and/or take photos with the radio duo. The K-Hits Street Team will be there, set up at a table with prizes and plenty of K-Hits swag to hand out. Pharmacists will be available to answer questions about flu vaccines and other medication-related issues, light refreshments will be served, and validated parking will be available in a UIC lot adjacent to the facility.
* * Former WJMK-FM/104.3 K-Hits afternoon DJ Bo Reynolds is now back in his hometown of Escanaba, MI, working the afternoon shift at WYKX-FM/Kix Country 104.7 FM.
* * "Big Shoe" Stu Evans is back on the beach. The former Chicago radio DJ was most recently working at Phoenix, AZ's KMLE-FM as the afternoon drive host, where he was a fixture at one time. As of the end of last week, the veteran radio man was forced out. Stu Evans was heard on Chicago's airwaves on & off since the 70's on stations WFYR-FM, WJEZ-FM, WJJD-AM, and WJMK-FM.
* * Fans of the golden age of radio will want to check out a special eight-week class, starting this weekend Newberry Library, located at 60 W. Walton Street in Chicago, directly across the street from Washington Square Park. The course, entitled "Hardboiled: Radio Mysteries and Detective Stories," will feature classic detective radio shows. As first mentioned on the Chicagoland Radio & Media message board earlier last week
, the course begins this Saturday, September 29th from 10:30am-12:30am and runs each Saturday throughout the Fall. Each class will be led by Gwen Ihnat, a former editor at the Chicago History Museum, who has taught several Newberry seminars on old-time radio. For more information, visit this link HERE
* * Congratulations to former WWWN-FM/WIQI-FM news writer/editor Shannon Beverly. She and her longtime boyfriend Justin Ward, who became engaged last November, were married earlier this month. Sadly, she returned from her honeymoon last week to find out she was one of the many Merlin Media staffers released
. Regardless, the future still looks bright for her and her new life.
* * Best wishes and healing thoughts go out to Total Traffic Network's Ted Novak, who is heard most often on overnights on WGN-AM. Novak has been off the air for most of this month dealing with a medical issue, which may be related to his past thyroid trouble. He hopes to be back on his feet and back on the air as soon as possible.