Chicago's Smooth 87.7 expands spotlight on local jazz artists

Robservations on the media beat:

  • Citing a groundswell of support from listeners and the local music community, Chicago's Smooth 87.7 is expanding Rick O’Dell’s weekly showcase for local contemporary jazz artists to two hours. Starting this weekend, Chicago Music will air from 6 to 8pm Sundays on WLFM-FM (87.7). Also adding an hour will be the syndicated Legends of Jazz with Ramsey Lewis, airing from 8 to 11pm Sundays. To accommodate the moves, Paul Wertico’s Wild World of Jazz has been dropped. In addition to hosting his expanded Sunday night show, O’Dell continues as the station’s program director, midday personality and Sunday Brunch host. (Really now, is there a harder working guy in Chicago radio?)

  • As environment reporter for the Chicago Tribune, Michael Hawthorne writes frequently about the National Resources Defense Council, a leading nonprofit environmental advocacy group. Tonight he’s being featured as a special guest at a Leap Day event and reception hosted by the NRDC. I asked Hawthorne if that could be viewed as a conflict. “I go to a lot of events during my reporting,” he told me. “It’s no secret that NRDC is one of several groups that provide information on environmental issues to journalists, including me. They’re having an event on a subject I’ve covered, and I said I would talk about my previous reporting if my work schedule allowed me to stop by the event. I’d do the same thing if the Chamber of Commerce or the American Chemistry Council had an event about something I cover. I don’t see a conflict in promoting the work of the Chicago Tribune in the community.”

  • No campaign in recent Chicago history was as momentous or controversial than the 1983 contest that culminated in the election of Harold Washington as the city’s first black mayor. Among other key figures were Jane Byrne, Richard M. Daley and Bernard Epton. Former television newsman Peter Nolan, a first-hand observer that year and a veteran of CBS 2 and NBC 5, recalls the drama and behind-scenes machinations in Campaign!: The 1983 Election that Rocked Chicago. The self-published paperback from Amika Press is available from and

  • Houston, do you have a problem? The hiring of Kris Gutierrez as morning news anchor at CBS 2 and Daniella Guzman as morning news anchor at NBC 5 has not gone unnoticed in Houston, where both once worked at KPRC-TV. “What is it with KPRC 2 and its staff’s obsession with Chicago?” asked Houston media blogger Mike McGuff. “Could the Windy City be more important than the Bayou City to them?” One reader responded: “The trail from KPRC in Houston to ‘Chicawgo’ was blazed a long time ago.” Other Houston alums currently anchoring in Chicago include Rob Johnson, Anna Davlantes, Jan Jeffcoat, and Sylvia Perez.

  • Northwest Indiana’s public radio station moved quickly to pick up NPR’s All Things Considered after Chicago Public Media WBEZ-FM (91.5) dropped the show’s 3pm hour to accommodate Steve Edwards’ new Afternoon Shift. As of this week, All Things Considered is airing from 3 to 4pm weekdays on WLPR-FM (89.1), followed by the local 90-minute talk show Lakeshore Drive, hosted by Tavis Buchan. “We’re proud to be the only radio station bringing All Things Considered to northwest Indiana and Chicago’s south suburbs during this crucial hour of the afternoon,” Dan Bindert, vice president of radio operations for Lakeshore Public Radio, said in a statement.

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Laura Baginski, Editor (@TimeOutChicago)