A woman’s place is on the radio — or so WGN is hoping

Robservations on the media beat:

  • If there’s any silver lining in the upcoming departure of John Williams from WGN-AM (720), it may that the Tribune Co.-owned news/talk station will finally add a woman to its full-time lineup. Since the departures of midday hosts Kathy O’Malley and Judy Markey in 2009 and overnight co-host Johnnie Putman in 2011, WGN has been without a female presence in a leading role. Now that WGN bosses have begun the search for a new Monday-through-Friday personality, insiders say, they’re focusing almost exclusively on women. Friday’s midday fill-in for Williams, author Carol Roth, is said to be under consideration. Others mentioned include The U’s Melissa Forman and Tribune columnist Jen Weigel. But with seven weeks to go before Williams signs off, the field remains open.

  • Andrew Herrmann is out after six months as editor-in-chief of Sun-Times Media’s west suburban dailies — Aurora Beacon-News, Naperville Sun and Elgin Courier-News. Before his appointment last May, Herrmann spent 28 years at the Sun-Times, rising from reporter to managing editor. A search for his replacement is under way.

  • Chicago Bulls play-by-play announcer Chuck Swirsky remembered ESPN’s Jim Durham as a role model and friend who was instrumental in advancing his career. In the 1980s, Swirsky told ShermanReport’s Ed Sherman, Durham would listen to Swirsky's tapes of DePaul basketball games: "He would say, 'You need to tell the score more' or 'You need to describe where the ball is more.' He wouldn't just say, 'You're doing fine.' His advice was very constructive. He was a great mentor." A Chicago native and voice of the Bulls from 1973 to 1991, Durham died Sunday at 65.

  • Bill Kurtis has had better weeks. First the CBS 2 news anchor was sued by famed accuser Sharon Bialek for remarks he made about her on a Chicago radio show. Now his Kansas-based Tallgrass Beef has been hit with a $402,816 penalty by the USDA’s grain inspection, packers and stockyards administration. The civil penalty stems from failing to pay full purchase price of livestock on time and other technicalities. Kurtis told the publication Meatingplace that all debts and fees will be paid. "From the beginning, seven years ago, I was determined not to leave the producers behind," he said. "We are still in business and intend to stay in business."

  • Kudos to Brian Hieggelke, editor and publisher of Newcity, on publication this week of his magazine’s 20th anniversary Best of Chicago edition. This year’s collection of superlatives has a global theme, including two public radio winners: Jerome McDonnell's Worldview on WBEZ-FM (91.5) as “best local window on the world,” and Radio Arte’s WRTE-FM (90.5) as “best bilingual community radio station.”

  • Just in time for release of the James Bond movie Skyfall, Chicago-based AccuRadio has launched three new “spy music” channels geared to secret-agent fans. One is Secret Agent Radio featuring music from popular movies and TV shows. A second is Channel 007 focusing exclusively on James Bond soundtracks. The third is Open Channel D playing TV themes ranging from The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Mission: Impossible to I Spy and The Saint. All three are programmed by AccuRadio founder and CEO Kurt Hanson, who said in a statement: "These are channels we've been hoping to launch for years. The great buzz on Skyfall really 'lit the fuse,' as it were, for us to get this done."

  • The horrifying, heartbreaking and ultimately inspiring story of what two Chicago sports figures witnessed and accomplished on the other side of the world is the subject of a two-part documentary premiering next week on Comcast SportsNet Chicago. Through their heroic efforts, sports photographer Bill Smith and Bulls executive Joe O'Neill changed the lives of hundreds of children living in unimaginable poverty in Cambodia. CSN’s Chuck Garfien, Matt Zickus and Justin O’Neil followed them on their mission of hope and rescue. From the Sports World to the Third World: A Journey to Cambodia will debut at 7pm Tuesday (Part 1) and 7pm Wednesday (Part 2).

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Laura Baginski, Editor (@TimeOutChicago)