WGN ‘historic studio’ awaits future as museum piece

Robservations on the media beat:

  • The studio that once served as the broadcast command post for Wally Phillips, Bob Collins, Spike O’Dell and other Chicago radio legends soon will be on public display. Tribune Co.-owned news/talk WGN-AM (720) is donating its former main studio equipment and furniture to the Museum of Broadcast Communications. “It's been dismantled and we're just waiting for them to take it,” Tom Langmyer, vice president and general manager of WGN, told me. The station recently relocated from the first floor to new state-of-the-art facilities on the seventh floor of Tribune Tower. Said Bruce DuMont, founder and president of the museum: “We would be delighted to add the WGN historic studio as part of our museum experience.”

  • Just eight months after the Chicago Tribune began charging $99 for its books section, the newspaper is making subscribers pay more for weekly TV listings, too. Gone after September 29 will be The Guide, the free weekly insert that has been included in Saturday editions. In its place, the Tribune will charge $35 a year for TV Weekly, a magazine published by Michigan-based NTVB Media. "We see TV Weekly as a solid opportunity to increase revenues and decrease costs," Tribune president Vince Casanova said in a memo quoted by reporter Robert Channick.TV Weekly will pay us a percentage for each copy we deliver, and we'll save on newsprint and other costs by retiring The Guide."

  • Sunday marks the debut of Splash, a new 24-page weekly section covering society, style and celebrities, to be distributed in the Sun-Times and 40 suburban publications owned by Sun-Times Media. The company says it’s the only major Midwest newspaper to deliver local society and style in a Sunday magazine style format. “I’m thrilled to be leading the creation of a new local product that captures the spirit of our city and suburbs in a way that is beautiful, interesting and consistently relevant,” editor Susanna Negovan said in a statement.

  • With WKSC-FM (103.5) riding higher than ever in the ratings, owner Clear Channel has no shortage of candidates to replace Rick Vaughn as program director of the Top 40 station. Vaughn shifted last week to program director of WKLS-FM, WWVA-FM and WWLG-FM in Atlanta. “Rick was instrumental in the growth of Kiss FM over the last four years,” said Tony Coles, vice president of programming and operations for Clear Channel Chicago. “He leaves the station in great shape and well positioned for continued growth under our next PD. Because this is such a great career opportunity, we are fortunate to have many highly qualified programmers interested in the position. I'll be spending the next few weeks speaking with folks inside and outside of our organization as we look for the right match.”

  • Congratulations to Anthony Ponce, weekend news anchor and reporter at NBC 5, on his marriage to Maggie Rife, a Chicago-based photographer. They’ll wed Saturday in Barrington. Best man will be the groom’s older brother, Dan Ponce, a reporter at WGN. The Ponce brothers also co-host Sunday afternoons on news/talk WLS-AM (890). It’s another milestone for the first family of Chicago television: Anthony is the last of WTTW host Phil Ponce and artist/wife Ann’s three kids to tie the knot.

  • Some of my best friends are from Montana, so it was nice to see another old friend, Dick Reingold, turn up as vice president and general manager of Randy Bongarten’s Bonten Media Group cluster of TV stations in Missoula, Butte and Bozeman. From 1984 to 1991, Reingold was news director at NBC 5, where he hired quite a few anchors and reporters still active in Chicago. He most recently was president and CEO of Black Heritage Network.

  • G. Michael Donovan, who put WNUA-FM (95.5) on the air as a smooth jazz station in 1987 after seven years as general manager at WKQX and a decade in various posts at WLS, has called it quits. One of the best in the business, Donovan retired last week after a 42-year career spanning 22 radio stations, two TV stations and a consultancy. He most recently was sales manager of Univision Radio in San Diego.

  • Gordon “Buzz” Hannan, who joined CBS 2 in 1963, retired last week as stage manager/director. For 15 years, he doubled as stage manager of Siskel & Ebert and Ebert & Roeper, the syndicated movie-review shows produced there. Can you imagine anyone starting in television now working for the same station for 49 years?



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Laura Baginski, Editor (@TimeOutChicago)