Reporter McQueary segues to Tribune editorial board

Robservations on the media beat:

  • Veteran political reporter Kristen McQueary, who spent the last year covering state government jointly for the Chicago News Cooperative and Chicago Public Media WBEZ-FM (91.5), is joining the editorial board of the Chicago Tribune. While the deal had been in the works for weeks, she’s the first staffer to land employment since the CNC announced it was suspending operations.  “I have loved every minute of working with you at WBEZ and with the Chicago News Cooperative,” she told Eight Forty-Eight’s Tony Sarabia. “It’s been an absolute delight.” As a member of the Tribune editorial board, she is expected to succeed Oscar Avila, who left last year to work for the U.S. Department of State. McQueary, a former president of the Chicago Headline Club, was a political columnist for the SouthtownStar for 12 years and previously worked for the Peoria Journal Star.

  • Three top executives are out at the Chicago Sun-Times, as new owner Wrapports LLC continues to put its mark on the newspaper’s parent company. Rick Surkamer resigned as president and chief operating officer of Sun-Times Media Holdings, a post he held since February 2009. A former Tribune Co. executive, he joined Sun-Times Media as vice president of operations in 2007. “Much of the progress that has been made at [Sun-Times Media] over the past years has been a direct result of Rick’s tenacity and energy,” new CEO Tim Knight told staffers in a memo. The resignation is effective at the end of the month. Also out are Fred Lebolt, senior vice president and general manager of the company’s digital operations, and Matthew Saleski, vice president of marketing and business development.

  • Good news for Jonathon Brandmeier: In his first full month as morning personality at Tribune-owned news/talk WGN-AM (720), Johnny B. jumped from 20th place with a 2.2 percent audience share to a tie for 12th with a 3.1 share among listeners in the “money demo” between 25 and 54. Arbitron ratings for January showed WDRV-FM (97.1)/The Drive and WTMX-FM (101.9)/The Mix, both owned by Hubbard Radio, tied for first place overall with 5.4 shares among adults. Still struggling after six months on the air, Merlin Media all-news WIQI-FM (101.1) tied for 32nd place with a 0.7 share in the 25-54 demo (despite an erroneous report claiming the station was “getting above a 1.0 without even trying or advertising.”) In a staff restructuring Monday, FM News 101.1 cut three positions, including two on-air — news anchor Scott Miller and reporter Anne Kelly.

  • When Kristyn Hartman chose not to renew her contract after seven years as a reporter at CBS 2, she told me: “There are certain things I want to get out of life, and I’m pursuing them.” Now we know what they are. In June, she’ll join WBNS-TV in Columbus, Ohio, as 5, 6 and 11pm weekday news anchor. Although Hartman is dropping from the No. 3 market to No. 32, as pointed out, it’s becoming increasingly common to step down in exchange for a primary anchor seat. “When the opportunity came to join WBNS-10TV, I knew that there are few stations in the country that have the level of commitment to these values that 10TV has,” Hartman said in a press release. “I can't wait to make central Ohio my new home and continue an amazing legacy.”

  • Tony Macaluso, director of marketing and patron services for the Grant Park Music Festival, has been named director of network and syndication at the WFMT Radio Network. He will oversee syndication of more than three dozen programs and concert series worldwide. “The WFMT Radio Network is busier than ever before, and Tony’s energy, skills and experience will be invaluable to us as we continue to expand our content and reach,” Steve Robinson, executive vice president and general manager of the network and classical WFMT-FM (98.7), said in a statement. Macaluso also is the author of Sounds of Chicago’s Lakefront and Secret Spaces atop Chicago.

  • The legendary Paul Gallis, who died last week at 88, wasn’t just the last of Chicago’s original independent record promoters. He also was a dear friend and mentor to countless radio personalities and programmers. Among those whose careers he advanced were Bob Collins, Clark Weber and even Steve Dahl. “When I came to Chicago in 1978, I was reviled by my radio peers,” Dahl recalled. “Paul took me under his wing and showed me the ropes.” Recommended reading: Dave Martin’s tribute to “an original, a charming bigger-than-life character, a force of nature.”

  • The National Society of Newspaper Columnists has named its annual scholarship program in memory of Jeff Zaslow. The former Sun-Times and Wall Street Journal columnist and best-selling author died at 53 in an auto accident February 10. “Jeff’s magical writing appealed to readers of all ages, but he had a special soft spot for young people,” Jim Casto, president of the society’s education foundation, said in a statement. “Thus attaching his name to our scholarship program seems indeed appropriate.”

  • Memo to George McFly, evening jock on K-Hits: That big building on the lake you were broadcasting from last week is called McCormick Place — not “McCormick Center.”

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Laura Baginski, Editor (@TimeOutChicago)