Senior editors move up on Chicago magazine’s masthead

Robservations on the media beat:

  • Two senior editors at Chicago magazine were promoted Tuesday to newly created positions in a reorganization under recently hired editor-in-chief Beth Fenner. In naming Cassie Walker Burke to the No. 2 job of executive editor, Fenner said in a memo: “When I arrived here in September, one staffer told me that this 10-year Chicago veteran was ‘the heart and soul of the magazine.’ I have also found her to be a gifted editor, a big-picture thinker, and an idea machine.” Another senior editor, Jennifer Tanaka, was named deputy editor. “As anyone who has worked with this multi-talented Newsweek alum can attest, her top-notch story-packaging skills and clever pen improve any piece she touches,” Fenner said. Both moves were prompted by the resignation last December of 18-year veteran Shane Tritsch, whose position as managing editor was eliminated.

  • Thousands of Twitter followers thought they were reading the words of morning star Jonathon Brandmeier, whose daily tweets began appearing shortly after he joined news/talk WGN-AM (720) last December. But it turns out that @JBonWGN was the unauthorized creation of a rabid Johnny B. fan (and occasional contributor to the show) named Pete Hayman. After more than two months, officials of the Tribune Co.-owned station finally got around to having the ersatz account suspended. (A correction from Jackie Paulus, director of marketing and digital innovation at WGN: "As opposed to us finally getting around to it, there were two complaints filed immediately, one by Johnny's producer and one by the station. Unfortunately, due to the volume of these incidences, it took Twitter that long to validate and process the request.")

  • This year’s class of Silver Circle inductees just got a little smaller. Rudy Orisek, the former WGN producer, was to have been among those honored April 20 by the Chicago/Midwest chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. But Orisek had to bow out because the event conflicts with the weekend of his daughter’s wedding in Iowa. “He was happy to know he'll be inducted next year,” said Silver Circle chairman Thea Flaum. Still set for induction this year are television pioneer Burr Tillstrom, performer Marshall Brodien, executives Norman Shapiro, Jim Disch and Ed Spray, newsman Jorge Barbosa, and cameraman Steve Lasker.

  • A tip of the hat to the great Bill Mullen, who retired last week after an illustrious 45-year career as a reporter for the Chicago Tribune. Mullen, 67, whose beat most recently encompassed natural history, museums and science, was the most prominent staffer to accept the newspaper’s latest buyout offer. He won Pulitzer Prizes for international reporting as well as local investigative work. Personally, I’ll always remember him fondly as the first instructor I had at the Medill School of Journalism. On the day he won his second Pulitzer — when he had every right to blow off our little evening class and go out celebrating — Mullen showed up anyway to teach Basic Writing to a group of wide-eyed freshmen. He set an example of humility, responsibility and professionalism I’ll never forget.

  • Steve Cochran is back on the air in Chicago and St. Louis after taking time off to recover from a health scare that he says changed his life forever. Cochran was stricken January 31 while broadcasting his evening show on KTRS-AM in St. Louis from his west suburban home. He recounted his ordeal to listeners of his afternoon show on Salem Communications’ news/talk WIND-AM (560), concluding “God gave me a HUGE second chance,” and admonishing listeners: “You have the opportunity to change your life now so you never end up going through what happened to me.”

  • The Sweat Hotel, singer/songwriter Keith Sweat’s syndicated overnight radio show, is joining the lineup of Clear Channel urban adult-contemporary WVAZ-FM (102.7). Starting Wednesday, the Premiere Networks showcase for “love talk” and R&B slow jams will air from 1 to 5am weekdays and from 1 to 6am Saturdays. V103 has been airing music overnights. “No local talent will be impacted by this move,” said operations manager Tony Coles.

  • is marking its 10th year as a comprehensive news and entertainment website for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community by adding three prominent new contributors. Joining the editorial lineup are Sukie de la Croix’s Gay Chicago Rewind, Rick Karlin’s Rick’s Picks and Local Dish, and Gregg Shapiro’s Reel Advice. “The combined decades of experience and expertise that comes with these writers will provide tremendous value for our readers,” executive vice president and content chief S. James Long said in a statement.

  • North suburban Highwood (population 4,168) got an unexpected shout-out on Jeopardy! last week. In the category of Festivals, the Daily Double answer was: “In 2011, what Highwood Illinois festival set a world record of 30,919 of these?” The question: “What are carved and lit jack-o-lanterns?”

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Laura Baginski, Editor (@TimeOutChicago)