Tribune stops the presses for 15 more staffers

Robservations on the media beat:

  • It’s been another tough week for Chicago journalism. On top of the turmoil at the Chicago Reader, the second wave of layoffs in nine months hit the Chicago Tribune newsroom Thursday — the Ides of March — with 15 more positions eliminated from the editorial ranks. The highest profile departure was that of Sarah Beardsley, the newsroom events director and socialite wife of politically connected attorney Ted Tetzlaff.  Others affected included Beth Arthur, Torry Bruno, Zoe Galland, Eric Gwinn, Susan Keaton, John Kerke, Rob Kozloff, Sandra M. Jones, Johnnie Miller-Cleaves, Wendell Smothers and Sheila Solomon. Thursday’s layoffs had been expected since Tribune editor Gerry Kern announced plans last January to reduce costs through voluntary buyouts and “other actions.” Among those who accepted buyouts were veteran reporters Bill Mullen and Barbara Mahany. An estimated 20 positions on the print and digital sides of the editorial operation were eliminated last July.

  • For the second time in five years, Delilah Rene’s syndicated nighttime show has been dropped by Clear Channel adult contemporary WLIT-FM (93.9). But this time, it looks like they mean it. Latest Arbitron ratings showed the 7pm-to-midnight program ranked 16th with a 2.6 percent share of 25-to-54 listeners, significantly underperforming Lite FM, which tied for fourth overall with a 4.4 share. Until a permanent replacement is named, various weekend staffers will be covering the shift, according to Tony Coles, vice president of programming and operations. A report earlier this week speculating that the cancellation of Delilah and the introduction of a new logo might signal a format shift at Lite FM drew an unequivocal denial from Clear Channel. “Other than the new logo, there are no other changes planned,” a spokeswoman said. “It’s the same format and the same music.”

  • Bruce DuMont, founder and president of the Museum of Broadcast Communications, has been tapped to host this year’s Silver Circle Awards dinner, sponsored by the Chicago/Midwest chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. The event April 20 at the Millenium Knickerbocker Hotel will honor local television veterans Jorge Barbosa, Marshall Brodien, Jim Disch, Steve Lasker, Norman Shapiro and Ed Spray. DuMont also will present the posthumous Pioneer Award to Burr Tillstrom, creator of Kukla, Fran and Ollie. Historical footnote: Thirty years ago this November, the TV Academy gave DuMont $250 in seed money to study the feasibility of establishing a museum to preserve old tapes and celebrate Chicago broadcasters. The Museum of Broadcast Communications marks its 25th anniversary June 13. “Given Bruce’s history with our chapter, we’re thrilled to have him as our host this year,” said Silver Circle chair Thea Flaum.

  • Dan Proft, the Republican political consultant and Illinois Liberty PAC chairman who doubles as Bruce Wolf’s 9-to-11am weekday talk show partner on WLS-AM (890), got off this line from the podium at Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaign rally Wednesday in Rosemont: "You know the difference between a Chicago Democrat and a mobster? A pension."

  • Chicago media veteran Ray Hanania has added a second radio outlet to his Sunday morning political talk show on WSBC-AM (1240). It’s also airing from 8 to 10am Sundays on south suburban WCFJ-AM (1470).

  • Condolences to Chicago broadcast legend Roy Leonard on the loss of Sheila, his wife for 58 years and mother of their six sons. She died Tuesday at 85 at The Mather in Evanston after battling dementia and Parkinson’s disease. Funeral services will be at 10am Saturday at Faith, Hope and Charity Catholic Church, 191 Linden Street, Winnetka.


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Laura Baginski, Editor (@TimeOutChicago)