Chicago was prime training ground for MSNBC's Hayes

Robservations on the media beat:

  • For Chris Hayes, the road to prime-time stardom began at a free weekly in Chicago. Before he became a political commentator, editor at large of The Nation and weekend host of Up with Chris Hayes on MSNBC, he was a free-lance writer for the Chicago Reader and was a labor reporter for the Chicago-based In These Times. Last week, Hayes, 34, was named the youngest host ever of a prime-time show on a major cable network. Starting April 1, he’ll anchor the 7pm hour Monday through Friday on MSNBC, bumping Ed Schultz to weekends. "Chicago is the place I learned to be a journalist, and I'm incredibly lucky to have learned the trade in what might be the best reporter's town in all of America,” Hayes told me. “I'm excited to bring the skills I learned there to prime time." His other local media connection is father-in-law Andy Shaw, the veteran Chicago newsman who now heads the Better Government Association. "He used to be Andy Shaw's son-in-law. Now I'm Chris Hayes's father-in-law,” Shaw quipped. "He's a great 'kid' broadcaster but more importantly, a great partner for my daughter and a wonderful father to an adorable granddaughter."

  • The Ides of March brought another round of layoffs to Sun-Times Media publications, as the company continues to consolidate operations and adjust to shrinking revenues. Among less than a dozen editorial positions eliminated were Sun-Times online video manager Jon Sall, Sun-Times page designer Dave Roknic, Post-Tribune executive editor Paulette Haddix, SouthtownStar sports editor Phil Arvia, Aurora Beacon-News city editor John Russell, and Joliet Herald News associate managing editor Matt Cappellini. An unspecified number of jobs in marketing, sales and other areas also vanished. “These decisions were based on the changing needs of the business,” Sun-Times Media CEO Tim Knight told staffers in a memo.

  • Sun-Times business editor and deputy metro editor Polly Smith has resigned after 13 years at the paper to become content manager for marketing communications at Loyola University Health Systems. “To say that we are sorry to see her go would be an understatement,” Sun-Times Media editor-in-chief Jim Kirk told staffers, calling Smith “a terrific editor, unflappable, and by any measure, one hell of a journalist.” Smith previously worked for the Times of Northwest Indiana and the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel. The move comes as the Sun-Times prepares to eliminate its business section and outsource content to Grid, a separate publication of parent company Wrapports LLC. "I really had been looking forward to working with Grid, but this is just exactly the job I wanted for a career change," Smith said.

  • Tom Langmyer, former vice president and general manager of Tribune Broadcasting news/talk WGN-AM (720), has been hired as a consultant for WTMJ-AM, the Journal Broadcast Group radio flagship in Milwaukee. Since leaving WGN after almost eight years last fall, Langmyer has focused on his Blue Water Group broadcast consulting firm. "WTMJ is one of America's iconic local and regional brands, and its influence in Milwaukee and Wisconsin is truly significant,” he said. “I'm looking forward to assisting the Journal Broadcast Group and WTMJ."

  • Ramblin’ Ray Stevens, morning co-host at CBS Radio country WUSN-FM (99.5), has signed to host Serving Your Country, a syndicated, weekly country music show targeting military personnel and their families. It will be distributed for airing on weekends by United Stations Radio Networks, starting April 6.

  • In a first for Newsweb Radio's trio of simulcast FM stations, exclusive coverage of NCAA basketball games will air at 11am and 2pm Thursday and Friday on WCPY-FM (92.5), WCPT-FM (92.7), WCPQ-FM (99.9). Regular news/talk programming will continue on WCPT-AM (820).

  • Sun-Times stalwart Dave Hoekstra, one of the recipients of this year’s Studs Terkel Community Media Awards from the Community Media Workshop, delivered a noteworthy acceptance speech Thursday at what he called “the shining moment of my journalism career.” In response to requests, he’s posted his inspiring remarks on his web page:

  • No one in the world was more qualified to write The Hidden History of Ravenswood and Lake View than our esteemed former Lerner Newspapers colleague Pat Butler. The veteran Chicago journalist not only covered those North Side communities diligently for four decades, he served more than a dozen years as president of the Ravenswood-Lake View Historical Association. Published by The History Press, the new paperback is available on and elsewhere.


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Laura Baginski, Editor (@TimeOutChicago)