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News & Notes: Tribune Broadcasting; Ken 'Hawk' Harrelson; Danielle Robay; Steve & Johnnie; The Score; B96; Much More

It's another gigantic News & Notes with 19 local media news items, including: Tribune Broadcasting continues to move closer to being sold off; Ken "Hawk" Harrelson moves closer to retirement; Danielle Robay moves closer to her dream of being a television star; Yvette Cruz leaves Chicago media; Chicago International Television Festival honors three; "Elton Jim" Turano fills in; Steve King has a radio homecoming; Steve & Johnnie make an appearance; Mike Nowak hosts a live remote; Scott Mackay hosts a fundraiser; WSCR-AM has a big contest for Cubs fans; B96 cooks with Bebe Rexha; Dave Stripling gets a new name; WFMT-FM goes Bach to the Future; WBEZ-FM launches a new podcast series; Univision Radio Chicago stations get a new owner (on paper only); Ryan Arnold talks to RadioGirl; Gina Ferraro gets a big promotion; and Patrick Butler is also promoted. All of these stories are just below...

* * As previously reported here, Tribune Media is quietly looking to sell off some or all of its television stations in the near future, despite their typical corporate denials of the situation. The biggest rumor has Maryland-based Sinclair Broadcast Group taking over all of Tribune's television properties, but this would put them well over the legal limits nationally. Sinclair has been quite controversial in the past year after the company was exposed to have created a financial relationship with then-candidate Donald Trump to give him more favorable coverage during the elections. Sinclair newscasts aired overtly negative coverage of candidate Hillary Clinton and have since been purposely downplaying any negative coverage of now-President Trump. Sinclair newscasts have been compared to that of the FOX News cable station. It has been said that Sinclair's leadership is hoping President Trump's favorable view of Sinclair will sway the FCC to lift current regulations get the Sinclair-Tribune merger approved. Iowa-based Meredith Corporation is also rumored to be interested in at least some of the Tribune television properties. A new report in Bloomberg says that Nextstar Media Group is getting ready to become a bidder for the 42 Tribune stations. The Bloomberg article also reports that new Tribune Media major investor, hedge fund Starboard Value CEO Jeff Smith is against any deal with Sinclair and has been among those talking with FOX to help thwart the deal from happening. Smith may be looking at forming his own consortium to take over ownership of the Tribune Media stations, which could include FOX being part of the consortium. (14 Tribune-owned stations are currently FOX affiliates.) It seems clear that within the next year or so, the Tribune Media/Broadcasting television stations will probably be under new ownership. In between now and that time will probably not be smooth sailing for negotiations for the stations, and in fact, looks to be more like a boat rocking in some very turbulent waters.


* * In 2010, Ken "Hawk" Harrelson told CSN Chicago's Chuck Garfien that he wanted to broadcast Chicago White Sox games until he died and was open to the idea of dying while in the broadcast booth. Less than three months ago Harrelson stated to Garfien he would like to keep on broadcasting the Chicago White Sox through the year 2020, so he could say he broadcasted within eight decades. This week he backed off on that idea. Harrelson told the Chicago Sun-Times' Daryl Van Schouwen that this will probably be his last year working in the broadcast booth. Said Harrelson: "Put it this way: It's that time." Back pedaling on his previous statements in December and trying to utilize revisionist history, Harrelson said to Van Schouwen: "I didn't say I wanted to broadcast four more years. The main thing is, I just want to be in baseball four more years, not necessarily broadcasting." If/when Harrelson does finally walk away from the microphone, Sox fans who have become big admirers of Jason Benetti will be pleased that the younger announcer will finally be able to work full-time calling games for the team. Harrelson has been broadcasting baseball games on television on and off since 1975. He began calling White Sox games in 1982, stopped during the 1986 season to be the White Sox team's General Manager for one year and then was broadcasting elsewhere. Harrelson returned to the White Sox broadcast booth in 1990 where he has been ever since. With the 2016 season, Harrelson cut back his hours by half, working primarily only away games because he didn't like his commute into Chicago. This forced the team to hire Benetti, who has been a welcome addition for most White Sox fans watching on television.


* * Viewers of WCIU-TV's morning show "You & Me" have been wondering who is the charismatic and energetic young interim co-host of the show. She is Chicago native Danielle Robay, who has been working in television since graduating in 2013 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has been seen as a reporter/correspondent for CNN, VH1, "Entertainment Tonight," Fuse TV, and KNBC-TV in Los Angeles, among many others. Robay has also been seen in Chicago as a contributor to WLS-TV/ABC 7's "Windy City LIVE." As "You & Me" has already been announced as a lame duck morning show, being cancelled and replaced by a new program sometime this spring, Robay's role with the station is only temporary. Could WCIU-TV be eyeing Robay for a role in a future local television program, though...?


* * Media Moves reports that Yvette Cruz is leaving Chicago media. KSL-TV, the NBC affiliate in Salt Lake City has hired Cruz as a web producer. Since May 2014, Cruz has worked for WGBO-TV/Univision Chicago as an assignment desk editor for the evening newscasts. Since August 2014, Cruz has also worked with the National Association of Hispanic Journalists' Chicago Chapter, serving as board secretary, board member, and social media coordinator. Prior to that Cruz worked as a freelance reporter for the local news website Chicago Talks and a writing consultant for Columbia College Chicago, where she has a Master of Arts degree in Journalism.


* * The Chicago International Television Festival, as their name suggests, celebrates the best in local, national, and international television. The 53rd annual Chicago International Television Festival will take place on March 21st, 22nd, and 23rd at the AMC River East 21 (322 E. Illinois Street, Chicago). The yearly event will culminate on Thursday night at 7:30pm with the 53rd Chicago International Television Awards Night Ceremony. WLS-TV/ABC 7's Ji Suk Yi, a host/producer of "Windy City LIVE," will serve as the host for the awards ceremony. The three honorees on March 23rd will be WGN-TV entertainment critic/reporter Dean Richards, who is being given the Chicago Award; Chicago-based television Advertising Hall of Famer Joe Sedelmaier, who is being given the Chicago Legend Award, and Amazon Studios, which is being honored with the Commitment to Excellence in Television Production Award. More information on the 53rd annual Chicago International Television Festival and Awards can be found at this link HERE.


* * As Dean Richards gets ready for his big television award, he will be taking this Sunday off from his WGN-AM radio show. Richards' frequent co-host for his live remotes, "Elton Jim" Turano will take over the show on Sunday from 9:00am-1:00pm. Turano also continues to turn in regular "Captain Pod-tastic" podcasts for WGN-AM's auxiliary website WGNPlus.com.


* * Chicago radio legends Steve King and Johnnie Putman were the special guests of Jim Dedlow on WJOB-AM 1230 in Hammond, IN for over an hour Friday morning. It was a homecoming for King who started in radio in 1966 at WJOB-AM. The following year, King left the station to work for WLTH-AM in Gary. This morning's appearance on WJOB-AM was King's first time returning to the station in 50 years. Dedlow utilized Facebook Live to simulcast his interview with King and Putman. For those that missed it, it can still be seen at this link HERE.


* * Speaking of Steve King and Johnnie Putman, the married couple will be making an appearance at the Chicagoland Record Collectors Show on Sunday from 8:45am-Noon. Steve & Johnnie will be there sharing stories of their close friend Les Paul and signing copies of their 2015 book, "A Little More Les." The Chicagoland Record Collectors Show takes place at the Best Western Hotel, located at 4400 Frontage Road in Hillside. More information on this event can be found at this link HERE.


* * "The Mike Nowak Show" with hosts Mike Nowak and Peggy Malecki will be broadcasting live from the Good Food Festival and Conference, taking place Saturday at the UIC Forum (725 W. Roosevelt Road, Chicago). This will be the second straight year for Novak's show to be broadcasting from this event and the first year since the show moved to its new radio home of WCGO-AM 1590. Nowak and Malecki will be set up in the Networking Lounge of the Good Food Concourse. Guests will include meteorologist Rick DiMaio, Billy Burdett from Chicago's Advocates for Urban Agriculture, Jennifer Filipiak from American Farmland Trust, Nicolaas Mink of Sitka Salmon Shares, Amber Peterson from The Fishmonger's Wife, and Jen Miller and Chris Trogg from Band of Farmers. "The Mike Nowak Show" airs on WCGO-AM on Saturdays at 10:00am.


* * The Naperville Police and Fire Departments will host their 13th annual event for the St. Baldrick's Foundation on Saturday at 6:00pm at the Chicago Naperville Marriott (1801 N. Naper Blvd., Naperville). Over 50 people will be voluntarily shaving their heads bald for the foundation that raises money for children's cancer research. WERV-FM/95.9 The River morning show host Scott Mackay will serve as the emcee for the fundraiser. There is no charge to attend. More information can be found at this link HERE.


* * WSCR-AM/670 The Score has a special gift to give away via an on-air contest. Starting this coming Monday, March 20th and running through April 7th, listeners need to wait for a recording of Cubs radio announcer Pat Hughes saying: "The Cubs are going to the World Series!" When that recording airs, which will happen on weekdays between 5:00am and 10:00pm, listeners need to call in to the station at 312-591-6700. The 6th caller will be entered into a drawing to win a pair of Cubs season tickets, allowing them into every home game this season. Contest rules can be found at this link HERE.


* * Next week, CBS Radio Chicago's new Culinary Kitchen will be having its third live event and its first ever with a guest musical artist. On Monday at approximately 1:00pm, WBBM-FM/B96 will welcome pop star Bebe Rexha to the Culinary Kitchen set. She will show off her culinary skills while being interviewed by B96 morning show hosts J Niice, Showbiz Shelly, and Producer Gabe. Rexha will be in Chicago to perform at Metro later that night. The studio audience witnessing the cooking demonstration will be made up of only 20 contest winners and a handful of invitees from CBS Radio. For those not in attendance, the event will stream live on WBBM-FM's Facebook page and on CulinaryKitchenChicago.com. It will then be archived and available on-demand on CulinaryKitchenChicago.com.


* * As previously reported here, WXNU-FM/X-Country 106.5 in far south-suburban Kankakee has hired now-former WIND-AM/AM 560 The Answer morning show technical producer Dave Stripling as its new Program Director and afternoon host. He will begin in his new roles on March 20th. However, when Stripling begins on the air next week for WXNU-FM, he will have a new name. A name previously chosen for him, Cooter, was later rejected and the search for a better name continues.
After the original posting, this item was updated with additional information.


* * Tuesday, March 21st is the 332nd birthday of famed German Baroque composer Johann Sebastian Bach. All day Tuesday, WFMT-FM/98.7WFMT will be saluting Bach with generous selections of some of his most popular compositions. In advance of that, tonight at 11:00pm on WFMT-FM will be a special Bach-inspired edition of "The Best of Studs Terkel."


* * WBEZ-FM is launching a new eight-part podcast series, "Written Inside: Stories About Prison Cells." The series features essays by inmates at Illinois' Stateville Correctional Center about their prison cells, shedding light on the everyday experience of incarceration. The first episode of the series will be released on WBEZ.org on March 21st. The series was cultivated by Chicago-based author and journalist Alex Kotlowitz. A few months ago, Kotlowitz started developing the inmates essays for broadcast with WBEZ's Content Development Team, which recently launched the much-acclaimed podcast series "Making Oprah."


* * Four of Chicago's Univision radio stations have new owners... on paper. According to FCC documents, the legal owner of WRTO-AM/Univision America was WLXX-AM License Group. (WLXX-AM was the previous call letters of WRTO-AM.) The legal owner of WPPN-FM/Amor 106.7 and WVIV-FM/WVIX-FM/93.5 & 103.1 Latino Mix was Univision Radio License Corporation. Univision has changed the legal owner for all four stations to Univision Radio Illinois, Inc. The ownership name change is purely for legal reasons and there is no on-air change coming to the stations because of it.


* * Ryan Arnold has been a nighttime and weekend DJ for WXRT-FM/93XRT since June 2013. In a new podcast with Margaret "RadioGirl" Larkin, Arnold talks about many subjects, including how he came to WXRT-FM, working at WDRV-FM/97.1 The Drive, radio in smaller markets, his favorite music, his love of vinyl records, his "real job" in public relations, and much more. The interview of Larkin's with Arnold can be heard at this link HERE.


* * Former Chicago radio and television personality Gina Ferraro continues to find success in her native state of Ohio. After leaving Chicago in the summer of 2013, she has been working as morning show co-host at WMMX-FM, an iHeartMedia station in Dayton. She announced on her show this week that she will be leaving WMMX-FM at the end of the month. Starting April 1st, Ferro will become the Program Director and solo afternoon host of iHeartMedia Dayton sister-station WCHD-FM.

In Chicago, Ferraro spent three years with Total Traffic delivering traffic reports on WUSN-FM, as well as on WGN-AM and WIND-AM. Prior to her time with Total Traffic, Ferraro gave traffic reports for Melissa Forman's morning show on WLIT-FM in 2009. From September 2009-September 2011, she was a host on the overnight "Dance Factory" program, heard on WCPT-FM/WCPY-FM/WCPQ-FM. Ferraro had been an important part of the all-night dance show, and often hosted live events for it on weekend nights. Beyond radio, Ferraro was also seen as a reporter/correspondent for the local television/Internet show, "Nude Hippo," was a segment contributor to WCIU-TV's "You & Me This Morning" as their social entertainment reporter, and was host of the WPWR-TV show, "Tattoo Factory."


* * Patrick Butler, who joined Hubbard Radio's 2060 Digital in Chicago in 2015 as Digital Brand Strategist, has been promoted to 2060 Digital's new Manager of Analytics & Operation Strategy. Patrick (Packy) Butler is the son of Barry Butler, the Vice President of Sales-Midwest for iHeartMedia's Total Traffic & Weather Network. (Barry Butler is also an amazing Chicago photographer.)


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