Randy revelations in Tribune tell-all will blow readers away

Robservations on the media beat:


  • Former Chicago Tribune managing editor Jim O’Shea’s long-awaited book about what really went on inside Tribune Co. — from its disastrous merger with Times Mirror Co. to its ongoing bankruptcy under Sam Zell — does not disappoint. Blessed with an insider’s perspective and a journalist’s eye for detail, The Deal From Hell: How Moguls and Wall Street Plundered Great American Newspapers includes stunning new revelations about Zell’s hand-picked CEO, Randy Michaels (pictured above), whose boorish behavior forced the Tribune Co. board to demand his resignation last October. Here’s a vivid passage from Page 338:

    "A terrace on the twenty-second floor of Tribune Tower became Michaels’ coveted real estate. . . .  Michaels had been warned not to leave the French doors leading outside ajar, because an open door would trigger an alarm at the security office downstairs. One warm day in 2008, a Tribune Tower security guard noticed something had triggered the alarm and sent a colleague up to the twenty-second floor to investigate. Seeing the door open, the guard stepped out onto the terrace and later reported to his superiors that he had stumbled onto Michaels, standing with his arms extended as if on a cross, receiving fellatio from a young female Tribune employee. The guard abruptly returned to the security office. But Randy Michaels was now the man at the top of the Tower and he could do as he damn well pleased."


  • Bill White, who’s been program director of news/talk WGN-AM (720) since February, will serve as interim director of news and programming while a search is under way for a news director at the Tribune-owned station. Veteran Chicago newsman Charlie Meyerson was forced out Friday after two years in the position. He spent more than10 years before that as senior producer and Daywatch columnist for chicagotribune.com. “It’s been a privilege to work with as accomplished a group of broadcast journalists as you’ll find in Chicago,” Meyerson said in a statement Sunday. Meyerson came under fire in March 2010 for distributing Randy Michaels’ now-infamous memo banning 119 words and phrases from all newscasts.


  • It shouldn’t take long for competitors to follow suit now that Tribune-owned WGN-Channel 9 has announced plans to begin its weekday morning newscast a half-hour earlier at 4am. Starting July 11, Erin McElroy will anchor WGN Morning News from 4 to 5:30am, followed by Larry Potash and Robin Baumgarten from 5:30 to 9am. “What’s driving this early morning news expansion is advertiser demand,” observed media blogger Terence Henderson. “Many are willing to pay a premium to reach viewers heading out the door in the morning.”


  • Look for news/talk WLS-AM (890) to release the first edition of its WLS Friends and Family Cookbook this week. The 82-page volume includes favorite recipes from stars of the Citadel Broadcasting station and more than a dozen other politicians and celebrities. Proceeds benefit Honor Flight Chicago, a nonprofit organization that flies World War II veterans to Washington for a day of honor. Recipes in the book include Don Wade’s short ribs, Dick Biondi’s vegetable lasagna, Ron Magers’ chocolate flan cake, Jake Hartford’s Miss Dill Pickle muff nuts, Bruce DuMont’s burger boats, eggs Bruce Wolf style, and Jim Johnson’s famous brown mumbler.


  • Tim Weigel, the celebrated Chicago sportscaster who died 10 years ago last week, was remembered in a lovely tribute Friday by freelance writer Dan Dorfman. “Few people seemed to have as much fun as Weigel on the air and had as many pals off the air as he did,” Dorfman wrote. Weigel’s daughter, Jenniffer, is a columnist for the Tribune, and his son, Rafer, is a sports anchor for ABC 7.


  • Devotion to Accuracy Department: An item last week on the race to capture Oprah Winfrey’s former viewers at 9am weekdays failed to note the growing strength of Today on NBC 5 at that hour. For the first two weeks of June, Today tied with ABC 7’s new Windy City LIVE, averaging 2.3 household ratings. WGN’s Live with Regis and Kelly had a 2.0 rating. Among women between 25 and 54, Regis and Kelly led with a 1.2 rating, followed by Today with a 1.1 and Windy City LIVE with a 1.0.


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Laura Baginski, Editor (@TimeOutChicago)