Media Bits & Bytes (6/2/14)

Chicago Cubs and WGN Radio

– In his Friday Chicago Tribune column, sports media writer Ed Sherman reports that the Chicago Cubs will soon announce their new radio deal with WBBM-AM 780, which would go into effect in 2015. No one is expecting the Cubs’ current home, WGN-AM 720, to match WBBM’s offer, which is believed to be a high sum of money that the Tribune Company seems uninterested in paying at this time.

Chicagoland Radio and Media reported in January that WBBM was the front runner for Cubs radio rights. That same story references a Comcast SportsNet report on how Fox television WFLD-TV Ch. 32 and WPWR-TV Ch. 50 may be potential landing spots for Cubs television (in-conjunction with cable channel Comcast SportsNet) starting in 2015.

– The cable channel WGN America was in the news last week, as Crain’s Business reported that the network will drop all Chicago sports broadcasts starting this fall with Bulls broadcasts. This will be the final summer that Cubs and White Sox games appear on the network. WGN America previously was instrumental in the Cubs gaining somewhat of a national following back in the 1990s with the presence of Harry Caray in the broadcast booth.

– When Ed Sherman wrote in February that the San Diego Padres had released veteran broadcast Andy Masur from play-by-play duties — just weeks before spring training was about to begin — I immediately thought how nice it would be if the White Sox were to hire him. Since then, Masur has found a temporary home at WGN-AM 720 and WGWG-LP/87.7 The Game, working part-time, primarily as a Blackhawks pre and post game host. I’ve really come to enjoy Masur’s work, which has only increased my desire that the Sox hire him, replacing either Ed Farmer on the radio side or Ken Harrelson on the television side (won’t happen, but I can dream).

Now that the Hawks are done, I would guess Masur’s WGN work will greatly diminish. Perhaps, they will utilize him somewhere on The Game?

– While on the subject of the Blackhawks, Awful Announcing has a piece about how NBC Sports isn’t utilizing its NHL monopoly to the fullest. While I do agree that hardcore hockey fans would probably appreciate added hockey talk on NBCSN during the daytime and leading up to game night, I suspect NBC sees how “well” other talk show types have done for rival Fox Sports 1.

That said, Hawks fans craving for additional hockey talk would not have been disappointed with 87.7 The Game’s weekend programming. There was no shortage of Blackhawks talk whenever I sampled 87.7 FM over the weekend. I really enjoyed yesterday’s afternoon pairing of Tim Doyle and Dylan McGorty. While I’m a bit underwhelmed with the Game’s weekday lineup, I love the various new voices scattered throughout the weekend.

– Following Friday’s (late afternoon) news that the “Arsenio Hall Show” has been cancelled, posted a solid assessment as to why the show failed. I never watched the show, but I do agree with what Chicago media critic Robert Feder tweeted that afternoon: “So typical of media companies to bury news on a Friday afternoon.”

– Other surprising news from Friday (mid-afternoon) was White House Press Secretary Jay Carney announcing his resignation. Politico’s Dylan Byers analyzes Carney’s tenure as Press Secretary, including how he is viewed by his former colleagues in the media.

– Last week, Garry Meier announced on his “new” afternoon show on WGN.FM, that WGN-TV Ch. 9 meteorologist Tom Skilling will now only appear on his program at 3 p.m. Skilling was previously appearing on Meier’s program at both 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. The removal of Skilling’s 6 p.m. appearance is further example that the moving of Meier to WGN.FM was more politically motivated (any boost to WGN.FM’s awareness and listening traffic is just an added bonus).

Later this week, Meier was originally supposed to do a remote broadcast from the Rockford Airfest. Meier was informed last week he would no longer be doing that broadcast. WGN-AM’s new afternoon hosts Bill Leff and Wendy Snyder will instead be doing the broadcast.

Still off air, Mike McConnell keeping busy with Facebook

Mike McConnellWhile the voice of Mike McConnell remains silenced, that hasn’t prevented the former WGN-AM 720 midday host from working. McConnell stays in touch with his fan base via Facebook by posting blog-like pieces about the hot news topics he’d likely be talking about if he were on the air.

Since leaving WGN last autumn, McConnell worked a few days in January filling in at the Charlotte news/talk station WBT-AM 1100. Meanwhile, his listeners — many of whom are fans of his former WLW-AM 700 show in Cincinnati — hope he resurfaces somewhere sooner rather than later. His Cincinnati listeners would love nothing more than for WLW to welcome him back. Current WLW host Bill Cunningham hinted about that happening moments after speaking to McConnell during an on air phone conversation back in November.

Even though I wasn’t always the biggest fan of McConnell’s WGN show, I think he’s a solid talker and does a does a great job at presenting his side to an argument. Whether I agree or disagree with his points, his Facebook posts usually make for a great read.

You can view his Facebook page and all postings, even without a Facebook account of your own.