New Tribune Co. bosses want Wert to change channels

Robservations on the media beat:

  • The new bosses of Tribune Co. are reaching out to an old hand in local media to oversee Chicago’s Very Own WGN-Channel 9, news/talk WGN-AM (720) and other Tribune Broadcasting properties. But whether Larry Wert walks away from NBC 5, where he’s been president and general manager for 15 years, is another question. Wert, 56, a Chicago native who’s had a high-profile career since he headed the Loop in the '90s, is rumored to be new Tribune Co. CEO Peter Liguori’s choice to fill a leadership void on the broadcast side. Both WGN flagships have been listing since TV boss Marty Wilke fled to CBS 2 in September and radio boss Tom Langmyer was fired in October. Wert did not respond to my inquiries, but he told Lewis Lazare of Chicago Business Journal: “I have a contract with NBC, and I’m happy here.”

  • With the Chicago Newspaper Guild already at odds with Sun-Times parent company Wrapports LLC, now there’s a new battle brewing: Veteran Sun-Times business reporters Francine Knowles, Sandra Guy and David Roeder have been reassigned to work for Wrapports on the new Grid business section. Their work would still appear in the paper, but they no longer would be Sun-Times employees. “The Guild is in utter astonishment that the Sun-Times management initiated the removal of three writers from our bargaining unit without a solitary word of discussion with us," executive director Craig Rosenbaum wrote in an open letter to the company. "In our view, this constitutes a unilateral and impermissible alteration of our bargaining unit in blatant violation of the National Labor Relations Act. As if that wasn’t offensive enough, the employees were all strong Guild activists, one of them an officer of the local and a key leader in our ongoing contract negotiations.” Rosenbaum said the union plans to file an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board.

  • The wildly popular NPR news quiz show Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! will come to the big screen for the first time in a special live performance May 2. Appearing at more than 600 movie theaters nationwide, host Peter Sagal and official judge and scorekeeper Carl Kasell will broadcast from New York University’s Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, along with panelists Paula Poundstone, Mo Rocca and Tom Bodett. Produced by Chicago Public Media WBEZ-FM (91.5), the weekly show usually originates from Chase Auditorium, 10 South Dearborn Street. If you miss the May 2 theatrical event, there’ll be an encore showing May 7.

  • The search for a new editor and publisher of the Chicago Reporter officially got underway Tuesday with the job posting on its website. “We are conducting a national search for a visionary and talented journalist who wants to make a big mark on investigative reporting, at a pivotal time in the news industry,” said Laura Washington, who was editor and publisher of the non-profit investigative news organization from 1990 to 2002. Washington is serving as interim publisher and leading the search. The job has been open since October when Kimbriell Kelly stepped down after eight years to join the Washington Post’s investigative team.

  • Roll out the welcome mat for Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie. They’ll be here Friday to broadcast NBC’s Today show from the plaza in front of NBC Tower at 401 North Michigan Avenue.

  • Look for Len Kasper, the TV play-by-play announcer for the Cubs since 2005, to turn up in the WGN radio booth during spring training (when games aren’t being televised). Kasper will be filling for Pat Hughes, who’s being allowed to cut back his spring training work. It’s believed to be the first time since Harry Caray in 1984 that a Cubs TV announcer will do a substantial number of radio games.

  • Arbitron won accreditation Tuesday for its Portable People Meter ratings system in Chicago and three other markets. The Media Rating Council also gave its blessing to PPM in San Francisco, San Diego and Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill, North Carolina, bringing to 18 the number of accredited markets. That still leaves 30 to go to meet industry standards.

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Laura Baginski, Editor (@TimeOutChicago)