Dahl trims staff to keep ‘growing as an entertainer’

Robservations on the media beat:

  • Declaring that “change is hard, and show business is harder,” Steve Dahl just cut three more employees from the staff of his subscription podcast venture. Each had been with him for more than 10 years — since his terrestrial radio days on the former WCKG. The ousters of technical producer Pete Zimmerman, assistant technical producer Jim Ruffatto and assistant Stephanie Fallara followed the release last December of executive producer Mary Sandberg. “It was not a decision I came to easily, but I think that it was the right move for the show,” Dahl wrote on his blog. “I know when I am not growing as an entertainer and I know what I need to do to keep that process moving forward. It’s The Steve Dahl Show, and that at some point is the brand that I need to protect, not only for my own creative integrity, but in order to support my family.” Brendan Greeley continues as a contributor to the show, while Dahl now runs his own technical board. Dahl recently added Dag Juhlin of Poi Dog Pondering as director of creative services and Erica Drogoszewski as marketing/operations director. He launched the Steve Dahl Network last August.

  • If you believe the Arbitron ratings, sports/talk radio has never been bigger in Chicago. Led by the Score’s morning duo of Mike Mulligan and Brian Hanley (who’ve been No. 1 among men between 25 and 54 for six months now), audience shares for both the Score and ESPN 1000 are through the roof. But that doesn’t mean everybody’s listening. In an essay for ChicagoSideSports.com, best-selling author Robert Kurson, who began his journalism career in the sports department of the Sun-Times, tells why he quit sports/talk radio cold turkey after more than two decades as a fan — and he’s never been happier. “Today, I know less than ever about sports,” he writes in The Big Tune-Out. “But I feel like I love them more.”

  • As he steps in to his new job as senior vice president and editor-in-chief of Sun-Times Media, Jim Kirk is signaling to staff and readers that some of the tabloid’s recent excesses may be toned down. “There’s been a lot of talk about the New York Post,” he told Elizabeth Brackett on WTTW’s Chicago Tonight Tuesday. (The first mention of the New York Post in that context appeared in Crain's Chicago Business last February — then under Kirk's direction.) “This is not New York. This will not be a New York Post paper. Chicago is a far different city [with a] very sophisticated news readership. You have a team of reporters and editors there who understand that. . . . We will be focused on what has been the hallmark of Chicago journalism. We know what readers want. They want very tough, very entrepreneurial kind of reporting, and that’s what we’re going to deliver.”

  • Lisa Chavarria, a reporter at KHOU-TV in Houston, signs on Monday as a general assignment reporter for Fox Chicago’s 9pm newscast. A Chicago native and graduate of Columbia College, she began as an intern at the Chicago bureau of NBC News and WGN. She previously worked at WTOM-TV in Traverse City, Michigan, and WTVF-TV in Nashville, Tennessee.

  • Jerry Riles, former program director of urban news/talk WVON-AM (1690) and former producer of CLTV’s Garrard McClendon Live, has been hired as sports anchor at KFBB-TV in Helena, Montana.

  • Although a stroke cut short his writing career more than a decade ago, Bill Granger left a prodigious body of work in his years as writer and columnist at the Sun-Times, the Tribune and the Daily Herald, and as author of 28 books. His death Sunday at age 70 drew an outpouring of tributes throughout the Chicago journalism community. “Bill was a quintessential reporter from the old school,” recalled Daily Herald editor John Lampinen. “Charming, gritty, colorful, a resourceful storyteller who was absolutely determined to get at the story and get it right. He loved what he did. I never saw him bored by a story he worked or uninterested in the people he wrote about.” Said former Tribune colleague Jim Strong: “Bill had a trait needed in all good reporters — he liked people. He was a reporter, a TV critic, a columnist, an author of best-selling spy thrillers and, above all, a favorite among his colleagues for his tirades and harassing of editors and the greats and wannabes who triggered his disapproval. And he did it all with belly laughs and wit even some daffy opinions.”

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Laura Baginski, Editor (@TimeOutChicago)