Building blogs: Sun-Times hires Gilmer as digital editor

Robservations on the media beat:

  • Marcus Gilmer, the new media wunderkind who’s been blogging for Chicago Public Media, is joining the Sun-Times as digital editor/blogs and traffic. He starts October 9. Sun-Times editor-in-chief Jim Kirk said Gilmer “has his finger on the digital pulse of Chicago and has great ideas on how to build readership online,” adding: “We are making a bigger investment in blogs and he will help lead our efforts in this important arena.” Since August, Gilmer has been writing Punching Up the News, the daily news blog for He previously was editor-in-chief of Chicagoist and associate editor of The A.V. Club, the pop culture sister publication of The Onion.

  • Gilmer’s hiring follows that of Brandon Copple, managing editor of Chicago-based Groupon, who just joined Sun-Times parent company Wrapports as general manager. In his new role, he’ll oversee a venture that will create sports and business media products, and lead development of an online video initiative to be carried on multiple platforms. “The Wrapports team is clearly committed to innovation,” he said in a statement. Before joining Groupon in 2010, Copple had been managing editor of Crain’s Chicago Business for six years.

  • The revered radio industry veteran who was hired to give Merlin Media a modicum of respectability is signing off. John Gehron will step down at the end of the month as chairman of the advisory board, ending his 16-month role as public mouthpiece for the company. His hiring may have been one of the few smart moves by Merlin Media CEO Randy Michaels. “It was a fascinating experience,” Gehron told me. “I worked with some wonderful people.” He continues to serve as chief operating officer of Chicago-based AccuRadio and as a consultant to other groups and stations.

  •  ABC 7 news anchor Ron Magers and WLS-AM (890) afternoon host Roe Conn made good on their promise Saturday to buy ice cream for the crowd at Arlington Park if their horse won the Addison Cammack Stakes. Sure enough, when their filly Third Chance finished first, Magers, Conn and their partners served up goodies to 500 fans. Magers said it was Third Chance's last race at Arlington (and her fourth win in a row there) before being retired as a broodmare. "We wanted to celebrate her career and the support of Arlington racing fans," he added.

  • The brightest new addition to Fox Chicago is Amara Walker, who joined the station as a per-diem reporter last July. She previously spent seven years as a weekend news anchor and reporter at WTVJ-TV, the NBC-owned station in Miami, where she was known as Amara Sohn. Walker was married last April and moved to Chicago with her husband. A magna cum laude graduate of the University of Southern California with a dual degree in political science and broadcast journalism, she began her career at KMIR-TV in Palm Springs, California.

  • Hardboiled: Radio Mysteries and Detective Stories, an eight-week class for armchair sleuths and fans of radio’s golden age, is being offered by Chicago’s historic Newberry Library, 60 West Walton Street. Starting September 29, classes will be held from 10:30am to 12:30pm Saturdays. Gwen Ihnat, former editor at the Chicago History Museum who’s writing a book about Chicago's early radio history, will teach the course focusing on such fictional detectives as Nero Wolfe, Richard Diamond, Sam Spade and Johnny Dollar, and classic shows including Lights Out, Inner Sanctum and War of the Worlds. To register online, see

  • Recommended viewing: The PBS American Masters series premieres The Day Carl Sandburg Died, a 90-minute documentary on the poet, historian and journalist, at 10pm Monday on WTTW-Channel 11. The Galesburg, Illinois, native who dubbed Chicago “city of the big shoulders” and “hog butcher for the world,” began his writing career at the Chicago Daily News and won three Pulitzer Prizes (including one for his biography of Abraham Lincoln). Featuring archival footage of Sandburg and interviews with many who knew him, the film examines his amazing life and astounding body of work 45 years after his death with intelligence and insight.

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Laura Baginski, Editor (@TimeOutChicago)