New reporter takes after her mother — in more ways than one

Robservations on the media beat:

  • You may not know Natalie Zarowny’s name yet. But if her face looks familiar, that’s because she resembles her mother, Marianne Murciano, the former Fox Chicago news anchor and weekend co-host on news/talk WGN-AM (720). Bob Sirott, current Fox Chicago anchor and WGN co-host, is her stepfather.  Zarowny, 22, who graduated with a degree in broadcast journalism last May from Emerson College in Boston, recently landed her first job as a reporter at WHBF-TV, the CBS affiliate in Rock Island, Illinois. “Truth be told, Natalie got her TV start at age 5, when Bob and I used to bring her on the set of Fox Thing in the Morning every year on Take Your Daughter To Work Day,” Murciano recalled. “She was also a regular teenage contributor to our radio show on WCKG with her own segment, Natalie's Room, where she famously explained My Space and Facebook to us. Bob still doesn't get it!”

  • Bill Kurtis and Walter Jacobson got six-month contract extensions along with their cupcakes Tuesday, as CBS 2 announced that the legendary Chicago news anchors are signing off at the end of February. Effective March 1, Kurtis and Jacobson will relinquish their 6pm weekday newscast to Rob Johnson and Kate Sullivan, who currently anchor at 5 and 10pm. “Our return was never intended to last more than a couple of years,” Kurtis said on the station’s website. “Come 2013, I need more time to focus on my other businesses.” Said Jacobson: “I’ve loved being back behind the anchor desk for the Chicago mayoral race, the NATO Summit and all of the other recent, big local stories. Just ahead is the presidential election this fall. After that, it’s the right time to pass the baton over to Rob and Kate.” In the end, the septuagenarian stars never managed to lift their newscast out of third place in the ratings.

  • Merlin Media bosses say they’re continuing to monitor feedback from listeners after adjusting the format last week at WIQI-FM (101.1). “One can’t be a serious player in this space relying solely on one decade,” operations manager Jim Richards told me after expanding the playlist beyond the ’90s music the station had been airing since July 17. “There’s a wealth of solid pop music — current through the ’90s — some played elsewhere and some played mostly on i101. We want to capture as many listeners as possible.” When fans objected to the move as too abrupt, Richards said, he went back and tweaked it again. “One would think a station actually listening to their audience would be refreshing,” he added.

  • The man who drove the snowmobile involved in the crash that took the life of CBS 2 news anchor Randy Salerno in January 2008, was charged last month with driving under the influence of alcohol in Crystal Lake. Scott Hirschey was arrested by police in the northwest suburb July 27, according to a report in the Patch, and has a September 11 court date on the latest charges. After the fatal snowmobile accident in Wisconsin, Hirschey pleaded no contest to charges of homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle. In 2009, he was sentenced to three-years probation and 100 hours community service.

  • It’s nice to see Mike Renda, the vice president and general manager of Fox Chicago, deliver occasional on-air editorials, as he did again last week on the issue of public pension reform. Once a staple of every responsible broadcast outlet, station editorials had become practically extinct. But I don’t get why Renda’s editorials are followed by this disclaimer: “The views expressed are not necessarily those of Fox Chicago or its employees.” If they’re not the views of station management, then whose are they?



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Laura Baginski, Editor (@TimeOutChicago)