Danny Mac back: ‘Much better’ Score host returns April 9

Robservations on the media beat:

  • The long wait is almost over. More than a month after he disappeared to deal with unspecified “health and wellness issues,” Dan McNeil announced plans Thursday to return to his midday show on CBS Radio sports/talk WSCR-AM (670). In a message posted on his Facebook page, the popular host told fans that he “could not be more grateful for the support I’ve received from family and friends, including this forum. Thank you. Feeling much better . . . and I’ll be back on the air Monday, April 9." While McNeil’s bosses at the Score have kept mum about the reason for his absence, colleagues alluded to his struggles with sobriety in the past. In the latest Arbitron survey, the midday show McNeil co-hosts with Matt Spiegel ranked fifth among men between 25 and 54 (its target demo) with a 4.9 percent audience share.

  • The management shakeup Thursday that cost Michael Damsky his job as president and general manager of news/talk WLS-AM (890) and oldies WLS-FM (94.7) may have been a blessing in disguise. Ever since Cumulus Media took over from Citadel Broadcasting, the stations have been under intense pressure to cut costs, reduce staff and cede control to corporate headquarters. For Damsky, 62, a highly regarded 33-year veteran of Chicago's radio wars, it couldn’t have been much fun anymore. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t eager to get back in the game: “I would like to do something in broadcasting, advertising or marketing where I can once again have an impact on all phases of the operation,” he told me on his way out the door.

  • History will note that Rosie O’Donnell’s last guests were Eva LaRue of CSI: Miami and a woman who made a documentary about crop circles.  One day earlier than announced, the Oprah Winfrey Network aired the final installment of The Rosie Show Thursday, ending the low-rated talk-show flop with whimper — and a song that had been taped months earlier. “O’Donnell did the equivalent of slipping quietly out the back door when she capped off Thursday’s broadcast not with any parting words, but with a performance by singer Josh Kelley,” reported Sun-Times TV critic Lori Rackl. “By the time O’Donnell cut to the Kelley clip, she looked like she might have been a little choked up.”

  • Tribune Co. may be pulling out all the stops in its public battle with DirecTV over rights to carry WGN and WGN America. On Thursday the company added its flagship newspaper to its arsenal by running a wraparound ad on the front page of the Chicago Tribune urging viewers to pressure the satellite TV provider. “The Trib hasn't yet resorted to running an editorial on the subject, but it may, considering how it used that format to argue its self-interests in opposing the longtime ban on cross-ownership between newspapers and TV stations,” observed the Reader’s Ted Cox, former TV critic of the Daily Herald. “So DirecTV will cave; it's simply a matter of time. And the Trib will have more money to hand out big bonuses.”

  • Kelsey Grammer, who plays fictional Chicago Mayor Tom Kane in the Starz drama Boss, will be honored with a Career Achievement Award April 19 at the 48th Hugo Television Awards. Presented by Cinema/Chicago and the Chicago International Film Festival, the tribute at the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel will feature highlights of Grammer’s career, including his iconic role as Dr. Frasier Crane. “For decades Kelsey Grammer has entertained us – across genres and media he has proven himself to be a remarkable talent,” Film Festival founder Michael Kutza said in a statement. “We are thrilled to honor him for his television work at the Hugos.”

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Laura Baginski, Editor (@TimeOutChicago)