Media Bits & Bytes: Jim Johnson announces retirement…

Roe & Roeper Show Gang

Jim Johnson (left) with Roe Conn, Richard Roeper and Christina Filiaggi.

– Jim Johnson, WLS-AM 890 veteran news anchor of 45 years, announced his retirement this afternoon on the “Roe and Roeper” show. Radio Ink spoke with Johnson, who says he made the decision earlier this week with the mindset that he’s done it all. Johnson also said that he’s in good health and ready to do other things.

As a long-time listener of Roe Conn dating back to his days with Garry Meier, afternoons on WLS just won’t be the same. Johnson is expected to hang up the headphones for good sometime this summer.

– ESPN took plenty of flack from various online critics yesterday for their delayed reaction at acknowledging the news of the NBA’s Jason Collins coming out as the first openly gay professional athlete in one of the four major American sports. Instead, ESPN was in high Tim Tebow mode all morning following the news his release by the New York Jets.

In a related note, are the inmates slowly initiating a backlash at the “mothership?” ESPN personalities Bob Ley, Scott Van Pelt and Bill Simmons all voiced some form of angst at the network, each in their own subtle or unsubtle way.

  • Ley tweeted: “Unintended but blessed consequence of Jason Collins’ courageous statement… Muting the Tebowmania.”
  • Simons, the Grantland columnist, which is affiliated with ESPN, shortly re-tweeted Ley (Simons himself was suspended from social networking in March for a tweet which criticized a specific exchange that took place on ESPN’s “First Take”).
  • Van Pelt on his ESPN Radio show stated his unhappiness with the amount of coverage Tebow got that morning by the network. Awful Announcing has the audio and an additional write-up.

Clearly, all of the above would go far beyond what ESPN’s standard and practices would allow. Based on recent history of how ESPN operates, I would expect all three of them will find themselves in hot water, with the high probability of suspensions.

– CNN announced that their new morning show “New Day” will launch June 10. The show will be hosted by former ABC News “20/20” host and “Good Morning America” anchor Chris Cuomo and CNN “Situation Room” anchor Kate Boldaun. Anchoring the news will be Michaela Pereira, previously a news anchor at KTLA-TV in Los Angeles. TV News Insider also posted the show’s logo and additional information pertaining to the show.

– While it may be old news by now that the conservative Koch brothers may be among those interested in purchasing the Tribune Company’s eight regional newspapers (which includes the Chicago Tribune the and Los Angeles Times), there continues to be no shortage of reaction coming from within the media circle.

According to the Huffington Post, about half of the LA Times’ staff indicated they will quit if the paper is purchased by the Koch brothers. The rest of the piece narrates the overall preference for local ownership, while examining the potential  pro’s and the con’s that can happen when a paper is locally owned.

Michael Wolff wrote a sound piece yesterday for the USA Today, examining the sentiment that the Koch brothers would attempt to turn their purchased newspapers into a strong and viable conservative news outlet. Wolff paints a realistic picture of why such a plan would likely be an uphill battle — the obvious hurdle is the dwindling state of the newspaper industry.  Still, this piece provides a reasoned round-up, all of which is still speculation, but fun to read nevertheless.

Continuing on the sentiment that the Koch brothers would attempt to build a strong conservative news outlet is syndicated columnist David Sirota. In his Salon piece last week, Sirota outlines the Koch brother’s plan to build a conservative media empire beyond newspapers.

– Barry Diller dropped a bomb shell earlier today on Bloomberg Television when asked about the purchase of Newsweek. Of course, I’m saying bombshell not because I’m surprised Diller would think such a thing, but because he actually had the gall to say it. Not only did he say he doesn’t have great expectations for the future of Newsweek, but that the purchase itself was a mistake(!). Diller described the idea of printing a weekly news magazine as “”fool’s errand” in an environment where the news is instant (ya think!).

For my money, the only news magazine worth touching is the Economist, which provides a very in-depth and highly education look at important news happenings around the world – something that no other news magazine comes close to doing — the exception would be Foreign Policy, except that is a bi-monthly publication. The Economist and Foreign Policy are also more big picture oriented.

– Digital strategist Fred Jacobs wrote an interesting piece today about measuring the success of a radio station’s app . Jacobs asks and answered how radio brands can optimize their content and the enhance the app experience beyond the basic function of streaming.

– Media strategist Mark Ramsey wrote an excellent blog yesterday detailing the biggest problem in radio. To sum up his point, Ramsey says that if radio ever finds itself irrelevant, it won’t be because of technology, but because of what radio did to itself. Instead of focusing on short-term popularity and monetizing, radio should concenrate more on delivering better content that will truly matter to the audience.  Ramsey strongly emphasizes that radio keeps attempting to be something it is not.

– Blackberry CEO Thorsten Heins told Bloomberg that tablets are a failed business model and doubts they will exist five years from now. Though Heins may not be responsible for Blackberry’s failed attempt at their sole tablet, the Playbook, anything coming from that company I can’t help but hesitate to take more than a grain of salt. Even as technology improves, I don’t see mankind being content at consuming extensive videos or reading via a  four or five-inch smartphone screen.

– What if mind reading technology allows you to turn the kitchen light on or off , change the television channel or surf the Internet? A piece from the New York Times reports that such technology is coming sooner than we may think.

Last year, a project called BrainGate pioneered by Dr. Donoghue, enabled two people with full paralysis to use a robotic arm with a computer responding to their brain activity.

From mind reading to voice recognition: Expect Labs, a voice recognition company, is the recipient of a hefty investment by Samsung, Intel and Spanish telco Telefonica.

From Engadget:

The startup’s prescient tech, known as the Anticipatory Computing Engine (or ACE, zing!), aims to guesstimate a user’s actions or information needs by listening in on and analyzing real-time conversations. It’s understandable if the prospect creeps you out — it should — but the end goal isn’t to invade a user’s privacy (though the data mined would be significant), it’s to anticipate and assist.

– Congrats to Larz over at Chicagoland Radio and Media for yesterday’s complete website re-launch. In addition to a new layout and navigation,  the most noteworthy change is the new message board. Not everyone is fully happy with the changes however, including myself, which I voiced on the original board last night (and in hindsight, somewhat regret doing). I do believe it is unfair to fully grade the new message board until the server issues are worked out and it can function at full speed.

Love him or hate him, you have to at least give Larz credit on the growth of that message board and website. Not only is the board read by many working at one of the Chicago radio, television or newspaper outlets, but many of those same people post(!) — some under their real names, many more under an anonymous handle.

For the record, Larz has always been very gracious and helpful to me whenever I’ve attempted my own media-related online ventures. He’s been supportive in the launching of this blog and he was more than kind when I was the new kid on the block in 2007 when attempting to run my own media message board, the short-lived “Blabbin’ Cabin.” Without knowing me and before I ever posted on his board, Larz plugged my new board and wished me well via email. I’ve appreciated his friendship since.

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