MarketWatch wipes out Chicago reporting staff

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Robservations on the media beat:



  • All three reporters in the Chicago bureau of MarketWatch are among 13 staffers nationwide who’ve been laid off from the Dow Jones business news website. David Wilkerson, a 16-year veteran who covered media, was the most senior. Also cut were reporters Jennifer Waters and William Spain, both 13-year veterans of MarketWatch. Among other layoffs were media columnist Jon Friedman. The cutbacks reportedly are tied to plans by parent company News Corp. to split off its cable and television assets, filmed entertainment and direct satellite broadcasting businesses into a new entity called Fox Group. MarketWatch accounts for about 40 percent of Wall Street Journal digital networks’ web traffic, sources said. The move comes just weeks after Nightly Business Report closed its Chicago bureau and eliminated three jobs here.



  • Four years after his death, Paul Harvey captivated millions Sunday when his unmistakable voice turned up in a commercial during the Super Bowl. "So God Made a Farmer," which Harvey first delivered at the 1978 convention of Future Farmers of America, was used as narration in a stirring two-minute ad for Dodge Ram trucks. (Here is the link.) At his peak, the legendary Chicago-based news commentator and talk-radio pioneer reached more than 19 million listeners a day over 1,200 stations.



  • Mark your calendar for February 28. That’s when Bill Kurtis and Walter Jacobson will anchor their final newscast at 6pm for CBS 2. The legendary duo were reunited in September 2010, but never came close to recapturing the ratings magic of their first run together from 1973 to 1982. Although tied with NBC 5 in overall households at 6pm, they’re a distant also-ran in the 25-to-54 demos, according to Nielsen numbers for January. As of March 1, CBS 2 will go with a single anchor team — Rob Johnson and Kate Sullivan — at 5, 6 and 10pm.



  • Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea for the Sun-Times to promote its new weekly business magazine on the front page of last Friday’s paper. It turns out that the premiere issue of Grid was distributed only to Sunday Sun-Times readers in the city. “Our distribution strategy includes the addition of suburban zip codes in the coming weeks,” one insider told me, explaining that the publication would remain in a “soft launch phase” until printing and distribution details are worked out.



  • Lunch With a Legend didn't go quite as planned Friday when Tom Waddle and Marc Silverman hosted former Bulls star Dennis Rodman on ESPN Radio WMVP-AM (1000). Just minutes into the live broadcast from Morton's The Steakhouse, Rodman dropped three s-bombs and one f-bomb — all of which were audible over the air. As fast as you can say "FCC," the station switched to an ESPN national feed of Scott Van Pelt and Ryen Russillo. Did they think no one would notice?



  • Lisa Tyler, former half of The Tom and Lisa Morning Show on WIIL-FM (95.1), has joined Jimmy Novak as morning co-host on NextMedia hot adult-contemporary WXLC-FM (102.3) in north suburban Waukegan. Tyler most recently had been hosting The Lisa Tyler Show with Jim & Alli, a half-hour weekday podcast. At WXLC, she replaces Jennifer Stephens, whose five-year run ended Friday. "Jennifer did a good job for us, but we felt we needed to take the show in a different direction," said operations manager/program director Haynes Johns.



  • The Beacon, a public affairs show on disability issues, has moved to a new day and time — at 7am Saturdays — on Newsweb Radio progressive talk WCPT-AM (820). It also airs on WCPY-FM (92.5), WCPT-FM (92.7) and WCPQ-FM (99.9). Produced by the nonprofit Chicago Lighthouse for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired, and hosted by Chicago broadcast veteran Bill Jurek, the one-hour talk show previously aired at 4pm Sundays. “As an early riser myself, I know firsthand that early morning broadcasts garner a substantial audience, particularly people who are blind or otherwise disabled,” Jurek said in a statement.



  • It’s Jack Benny Month all over again. As he has every February since 1979, broadcast historian Chuck Schaden is saluting the fabulous career of the greatest star of radio’s golden age. In addition to spotlighting his 1970 interview with Benny on his Speaking of Radio website, Schaden also is directing fans to Those Were the Days, where his successor as host and producer, Steve Darnall, is marking Jack Benny Month with classic broadcasts by the legendary performer. The show airs from 1 to 5pm Saturdays on College of DuPage's WDCB-FM (90.9) and at wdcb.org.



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