Faulty transmission: Technical glitches strike ABC 7 again

Robservations on the media beat:

  • For the second time in recent weeks, Chicago’s No. 1 broadcast news operation found itself bedeviled by new technology. As local stations competed Sunday night with live coverage of press conferences at the outset of the Chicago teachers strike, ABC 7 was hampered by severe signal problems. (“Apologies for our technical glitches,” news anchor Ravi Baichwal tweeted at one point. “All crazy breaking news.”) The worst transmission problems occurred during Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s briefing from the Harold Washington Library — a mere seven blocks south of ABC 7’s studios. “We, along with the other stations in town are using a relatively new technology that brings back video signals via cellular air cards,” an ABC 7 spokeswoman explained. “Last night with everyone using the bandwidth at the same time from the same location, the quality of the signal was affected for some of the stations.” On August 21, multiple snafus with new automation software turned the station's 10pm newscast into a technical nightmare.

  • Speaking of automation, another Chicago television station is about to outsource its master control operations. WTTW has announced a joint venture with eight other public television stations to build a joint master control center at WJCT-TV in Jacksonville, Florida. Initial construction will be funded by a $7 million grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. “WTTW has a long history of quality content creation, and combining our master control operation frees up resources to create more,” Dan Schmidt, president and CEO of Window to the World Communications, said in a statement. No jobs will be eliminated because of the venture, which is scheduled to become operational in the spring of 2013, according to the statement.

  • Prescriptions and subscriptions won’t go together after all: Tribune Co. has nixed plans for a 25,000-square-foot Walgreen’s on the ground floor of Tribune Tower, 425 North Michigan Avenue. Last June, the Tribune reported plans for an upscale flagship Walgreen’s in the vacant space once occupied by the Freedom Museum. But noting an upturn in the downtown real estate market, Trib spokesman Gary Weitman told his newspaper: “Tribune has been exploring a variety of alternatives for the use of all the available space within Tribune Tower, including some options that involve contiguous space on multiple floors. While this review process is underway, we decided to bring an end to our negotiations with Walgreens.”

  • Scott Smith, who has led Chicago magazine’s digital team for more than two years, resigned Monday to join Ogilvy and Mather as an account director in its Social@Ogilvy group. In his new role, he’ll be directing social media and digital strategy for clients. Before joining the Tribune-owned Chicago magazine as director of digital strategy and development, Smith had been director of content for Playboy.com, web editor for Time Out Chicago, and editor of Chicagoist. “If I want to have a complete view of the mass media ecosystem and truly understand how content is created, consumed, tracked and paid for across all platforms, then the work I’ll be doing at Ogilvy is the next logical step,” Smith wrote on his blog. “Innovative things are happening there and I’m excited to be a part of it.”

  • JoAnn Genette, an 18-year veteran of Chicago radio who most recently was a news anchor and reporter at Merlin Media’s FM News 101.1, has landed at CBS Radio all-news simulcast WBBM-AM (780)/WCFS-FM (105.9). Ron Gleason, director of news and programming at Newsradio, said Genette starts training this week for work as a part-time anchor/reporter. A native of west suburban Berwyn, she previously was a news anchor and morning co-host on a variety of stations, including Clear Channel Top 40 WKSC-FM (103.5).

  • Nick Tzitzon, who’s been a bright addition to news/talk WLS-AM (890) as weekend and fill-in host, is leaving the Cumulus Media station — and Chicago. Tzitzon has resigned his full-time job as senior vice president and chief operating officer of Bronner Group, a Chicago-based consulting firm, to move to Philadelphia, where he’ll join  SAP, the world's largest business software company. Starting next month, he’ll be vice president and head of CEO communications. No word yet on whether his Saturday afternoon co-host, Jack O’Malley, will continue at WLS. Incidental info: Tzitzon’s father-in-law was radio legend Wally Phillips.

  • The Best of Mary Schmich, a collection of essays by the 2012 Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for the Tribune, has just been published as an e-book by Agate Digital.



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Laura Baginski, Editor (@TimeOutChicago)