CBS 2 Chicago playing musical chairs (again), Susan Carlson wrongfully on the outs

Susan CarlsonBoth Robert Feder, via Twitter, and Larz at Chicagoland Radio & Media reported yesterday that WBBM-TV/CBS 2 has released morning news anchor Susan Carlson. According to Larz, CBS 2 opted to remove Carlson from the air prior to the expiration of her contract, most likely to shake things up as the ratings for the morning newscast remain at or near rock bottom.

This move is a real shock to me. As a regular viewer of CBS 2’s morning news, Carlson was not the problem with that newscast. As a matter of fact, I have a hard time identifying any real significant problems with the newscast.

Carlson and co-anchor Kris Gutierrez were a respectable team – they worked well together, were capable of showing personality when appropriate, and did a solid job at delivering the morning’s news. The added personality coming from Meagan Glaros (weather) and Derrick Young completed the newscast, as far as on set goes. There was real chemistry.

CBS 2 has a real tendency to play musical chairs, seemingly every other year or so when their ratings don’t show improvement. Sometimes, such moves are necessary, such as when the station opted to remove Steve Bartelstein, who was not a great fit. Other times, the moves are done just for the sake of change, such as when the station decided to remove evening news anchor Anne State several years back.

And for the sake of honesty, even though I am a huge fan of State’s eventual replacement Kate Sullivan, she hasn’t been much of an upgrade. That’s not a knock on Sullivan — it just means that there was nothing wrong with State!

And there was nothing wrong with Carlson either. While there are plenty of talented female news anchors out there, it’s not a given that the new choice will do as good of a job as Carlson. And even if she does, it will be hard to find someone who does a better job than Carlson. So at best case scenario, they find someone who does as good of a job. To that, I ask, what’s the freakin point!? Besides demoralizing the rest of the morning news staff and potentially upsetting the on air chemistry, this move will do nothing to shake the ratings. At best, CBS 2 will likely find whoever they hire to replace Carlson will be nothing more then a lateral move.

Just for fun… Since CBS 2 is desperate for attention, maybe they should consider hiring recently ousted Comcast SportsNet reporer Susannah Collins.  At the very least, that would probably generate added views to their YouTube channel!

Five years later, Mulligan and Hanley have dropped in ‘score’

When Mike North and WSCR-AM/670 The Score parted ways in mid-2008, I was ready to celebrate. It meant North’s bombastic ego finally caught up with him after years of dodging bullets. It also meant the promotion of then midday hosts Mike Mulligan and Brian Hanley, veteran Chicago sports writers who made sports radio a second career for two hours each weekday. Their midday show was a simple “paint by numbers” sports show, that wasn’t too serious. Stick to that formula, and it should work in morning drive.

Nearly five years later, I have a hard time listening to Mulli and Hanley. The problem is they got too comfortable. While their show still follows the “paint by numbers” formula, their loud and obnoxious personalities and spontaneous attempts at humor have become a huge distraction to what otherwise could be an entertaining and informative morning sports show.

Two weeks ago, the morning following CSN Chicago Susannah Collins’ infamous “tremendous amount of sex” slip of the tongue, Mulli and Hanley’s 6 a.m. segment featured them playing the sound bite over and over again, while laughing and giggling like school children. Yes, the slip was humorous, but nothing more deserving then a quick laugh before moving on. If I hadn’t known better, I would have thought I was listening to two high school kids broadcasting out of their parent’s basement with the repeat of the sound bite and their constant joking and laughing about it. Instead of discussing the Blackhawks victory in a playoff game, they were too amused with the sound bite.

You would think the amount of guests they surround themselves with would provide a decent buffer. It does to an extent, when the guest is capable, or willing, to play off the hosts’ humor. While someone like Matt Bowen pulls it off nicely, I cringe thinking about the times they had Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal on each Monday to discuss baseball.

His segments during the 2010 and 2011 baseball seasons were painfully awkward to listen to. Not only would Rosenthall no sell the humor attempts coming from Mulli and Hanley, the questions they would ask him were the same each and every week — why are the White Sox not hitting, how much more can Cub fans take with bad baseball, what can Adam Dunn do to start hitting? It was the same freakin’ interview each week!

In contrast, Rosenthal now appears each week on the Score’s afternoon show with Terry Boers and Dan Bernstein. The segments are a night and day difference. Boers and Bernstein keep their humor to a minimal, and ask a variety of questions about the game. The discussion is different each week based.

My rant may be a moot point since their show is doing very well, ranking third place in the morning ratings among the 25-54 demographic during the month of March. Their competitors, “Mike & Mike” on WMVP-AM/ESPN 1000 is syndicated so any focus on Chicago sports is minimal at best, and usually non-existent.

Another reason Mulli and Hanley probably do so well is because they come across as likeable — they don’t take themselves too seriously. If you can get past their overbearing personalities, they do actually discuss Chicago sports amongst callers and a solid lineup of guests — even if the exchange is potentially awkward. The core of the discussion is informative and relevant. Their show would be really good if they toned down their attempts at humor. Less is more.

I enjoy off topic banter and humor when listening to the radio, which is why I have enjoy Boers and Bernstein, Dan McNeil, Roe Conn, Garry Meier, etc. But when the silliness is not funny and becomes distracting to the core product, that’s  a problem (which is what WGN-AM is now experiencing with their morning superstar Jonathon Brandmeier).

While Mulli and Hanley are an improvement over their predecessor Mike North, what good is that since I’m unwilling to listen most mornings?

Odds & Ends

– When I do listen to Mulligan and Hanley, I do enjoy it when Mark Grote (“Scoreboard Update” anchor) chimes in before or after the updates. I wish he was allowed to speak more beyond the top and bottom of each hour. I also enjoy his hosting work each Saturday morning with Steve Rosenbloom.

– Following on what I wrote last night about WGN-AM 720’s “Noon Show,” I had the misfortune of missing program with guest host Bob Sirott. Joining him was fellow veteran Chicago news anchor Walter Jacobson. Another unfortunate is that the show isn’t podcasted on WGN’s website (a poor excuse for a website).

– Meanwhile, with regular “Noon Show” host Carol Roth still away, WGN’s Judy Pielach fills-in on today’s broadcast. Tomorrow, WGN airs a special “Cub’s Corner” broadcast with David Kaplan, Brian Noonan and Andrea Darlas.

– With the Cubs playing tomorrow night, game one of the Blackhawks second round playoffs against the Redwings will have to air on WLUP-FM/97.9 The Loop in addition to the live stream via WGN’s website.

Politico’s paywall experiment poses a valuable question – at which point does the paywall model become saturated?

Following Politico’s announcement last week that the publication would begin testing a metered paywall system in a handful of states, their media writer Dylan Byers tweeted the following:

I don’t care so much about the question as I do about the idea that most websites producing original content would charge for access. Even if Byers’ tweet was tongue-and-cheek, I do wonder if such an idea could be realistic in the near future.

What kind of websites would be worth charging access for? Any journalistic entity would be an absolute must due to its high cost. Many prominent newspapers have already established a paywall system on their websites, while others such as the Washington Times soon will be.

Would it be out of line for other niche publications to charge for access, such as TMZ, the Verge of SportsbyBrooks? Or how about narrower niche sites like the Daily Kos or Android Central? At some point, the paywall system has to become saturated. I’m not sure there are enough people with disposable incomes willing to pay for all the content they now get for free.

It was much easier for publications, general and niche, to make money in the pre-Internet era. Back then, people relied on the local paper in their city or region for a mix of local, national and world news. Anyone wanting more reading content  subscribed to weekly or monthly magazines.

I’m a semi frequent visitor to Politico, primarily for Dylan Byer’s media content. Depending on what pricing structure and the amount of free access they allow, I doubt I’d consider paying for their content — I already am a New York Times digital subscriber. Not that I don’t think Politico’s content is worth paying for, but after spending $100 each month on my Droid Razr Maxx, $70 towards Dish, the New York Times, Amazon Prime and several podcasts, I would have a hard time adding a CNET, the Verge, SportsbyBrooks, Grandland, or Politico to that list — regardless of how much I enjoy those websites.

Bill Moller would be an ideal host for WGN’s ‘Noon Show’

Bill Moller, WGN Radio HostToday’s “Noon Show” on WGN-AM 720 was an excellent listen courtesy of guest host Bill Moller (who regularly hosts “WGN Weekend” each Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.).

Previously, I’ve written on the Larz message board that Moller would have been the perfect individual to regularly host the “Noon Show,” since he is so well rounded in a variety of subjects and has an extended network of contacts (there certainly would be no shortage of guests). Moller has the tools to produce a highly informative and compelling broadcast that can expound on the day’s news, provide some “good to know” tidbits or dive into important money/agricultural issues when needed, along with WGN’s Orion Samuelson. Moller previously hosted money/financial weekend shows on WGN, so he has experience talking money and business.

Such a show would be highly unique and could be a nice alternative to WBBM-AM 780′s “Noon Business Hour” (which I also happen to enjoy).

Huckabee uncertain about future of radio show, never stood a chance against Limbaugh

Mike Huckabee

On Thursday, Cumulus Media’s syndicated host Mike Huckabee celebrates the one year anniversary of his radio show. By this time next month, he may have already decided to quit.

Huckabee tells Arkansas Business he’s unsure whether he wants to continue doing his radio show, expressing concern about the amount of work required each day versus the potential for long-term profitability. Huckabee said he will decide in the next 30 days whether he wants to continue or not.

This certainly can’t be news Cumulus is pleased to hear, considering the amount of time and money invested in him. As I wrote yesterday, Huckabee has been reportedly penciled in to replace Premiere Radio’s syndicated host Rush Limbaugh on many of their news/talk stations throughout the country, including WLS-AM 890 in Chicago.  When anyone with a considerable amount of money and reach that Cumulus has hires someone with the intention of competing against Limbaugh, that requires a significant investment.  As tensions rise between Limbaugh and Cumulus, further hinting that Huckabee’s show is likely to gain many of Limbaugh’s remaining Cumulus affiliates — in markets that also include New York and Dallas — the timing of Huckabee’s limbo couldn’t be worse.

Stick a fork in him… he’s done. You don’t go on record of being non-commital towards such a project that is so incumbent on advertiser support, unless you already know that you are walking away. At this point, why would any news/talk station not owned by Cumulus ever consider adding his show to their lineup, especially when there are other alternatives out there?

Now, I doubt Cumulus Media CEO Lew Dickey is waking up this morning and finding out for the first time that his star radio host is non-committal. While I have grown to despise Dickey and his company, I don’t think they are that stupid. If they don’t already have a Huckabee backup plan in place, they are in the process of creating one at this moment.

In retrospect, I thought the hiring of Huckabee in that spot was an odd choice to begin with. At the time, Cumulus promoted him as being an alternative, less polarized choice for conservative talk radio. While I like the idea, Huckabee was a bad choice due to his bland personality. While he may barely cut it as a weekend cable television personality, the art of long-form talk radio quickly exposes that weakness.

From the get-go I wondered how much Hucakbee truly appreciated such an opportunity. While it’s not unheard of for someone in a completely different profession to embrace a career in talk radio, it certainly isn’t a given. Still, too many media companies fail to learn that more times than not, giving a radio show to a non-radio guy eventually backfires.

You can’t prepare and perform at the high level necessary for a sucessful talk radio show day after day without absolutely loving it — which is why so many college graduates take any opportunity they can while working for peanuts. And while Huckabee talks about the hope long-term profitability (again… support of the advertisers and increasing affiliates), it’s not like Cumulus wasn’t already paying him a pretty penny.

If the idea is to compete against Limbaugh, less partisan isn’t a bad idea, but you’ll still  need a larger than life personality.  If Bill O’Reilly couldn’t do it, Huckabee never stood a chance.

Media Bits & Bytes (5/6/13)


Limbaugh and Cumulus anything but cloud nine… News made way over the weekend that Rush Limbaugh’s show may end its affiliate agreement with Cumulus Media, the second largest radio ownership in the U.S. Limbaugh’s camp is reportedly upset at Cumulus CEO Lew Dickey blaming his program for advertising losses following his controversial remarks on Sandra Fluke.

Speculation has been rampant for months that Limbaugh and Cumulus are at some point likely to part ways, but not at the choice of Limbaugh. While Cumulus is the second largest radio owner in the country, Clear Channel is number one, and it is Clear Channel that owns Premiere Radio, the company Limbaugh is contracted to.

While Cumulus has been buying up more and more news/talk stations in recent years, they’ve also been launching their own line of syndicated conservative shows, with Mike Huckabee, Geraldo Rivera and Michael Savage. Huckabee’s show runs  head-to-head against Limbaugh. While Limbaugh’s show airs on many Cumulus-owned stations, including WLS-AM 890 in Chicago and WABC-AM 770 in New York, it’s seems to be a matter of when, as opposed to if, Cumulus will eventually decide to syndicate drop all Premiere programs from their stations, presumably as soon as existing contracts expire. Al Peterson of NTS MediaOnline has compiled the top ten markets that would likely be affected in the event of a parting ways with added speculation on potential alternative stations Limbaugh could land at.

While I’m not going out of my way to defend Limbaugh, blaming him for the problems at Cumulus is a bit unfair. Dickey has himself to blame since he and his company are one of the largest culprits (along with Clear Channel) in the consolidation of radio — something that many argue has already ruined the industry. Cumulus is notorious for cutting staff and forcing individual stations to do more with less. And Dickey wonders why his stations continue to drop in ratings. Memo to Dickey… stop placing the blame on your sales staff!

As for Limbaugh, I’m not holding out any sympathy for him. While in some markets he will be left without a station, many more markets have duplicate news/talk stations that air primarily conservative syndicated shows. Limbaugh will still have plenty of stations to blow smoke at.

Dickey defends consolidation of radio… Speaking of Cumulus Media, company Co-COO John Dickey had some choice comments at Friday’s World Wide Radio Summit. Following those in attendance via Twitter, including Perry Michael Simon and Fred Jacobs, Dickey defended the consolidation of radio, that it will only continue and that radio can’t return to 1975.

Sure Dickey, go right ahead. When your company destroys stations, such as WLS-FM 94.7 in Chicago, those stations just might be better (aka, more cost effective) to adapt a one-size fits all template that shares the same playlist and voice tracked personalities as other classic hit stations around the country. Meanwhile, the rest of planet earth will eventually catch up and get their music fix, if not from their iPods or Pandora,  from possibly other viable outlets such as AccuRadio or Sky.FM. further recaps statements by Dickey and other radio industry folks from Friday’s event, which in all honestly, sounds more like corporate jargon than anything with real meaning.

Twitter’s Head of News and Journalism... Many eyebrows were raised last week when Twitter announced it was seeking someone to occupy their new “Head of News and Journalism” position. From the job description, I get the sense Twitter will still be a clearing house and not an actual originator of news content.

The area of the description that has perplexes me is where it states the person occupying the role will have “an essential part of the operations and strategy of news organizations and TV news networks.” I wonder if Twitter may start a separate dedicated timeline of tweets posted by only the most qualified news organizations or reporters, while this news head at Twitter acts as a liaison of sorts.

Regardless of what it turns out to be, the Guardian’s Michael Wolff outlines how monumentally historic this position can potentially be.

Kurtz feeling the heat… Howard Kurtz has taken several beatings for mistakes he made last week while covering the coming out of NBA player Jason Collins. Radio veteran Paul Harris did an excellent job at putting the entire situation into perspective, while also . Harris also summarizing what took place among Kurtz and other media critics on yesterday’s “Reliable Sources” on CNN.

Automobile manufacturers thinking about the future… Though the article title “Automakers tuning out traditional in-car radios” is a bit misleading, I still think the Detroit News’ story on the future of car radios and how drivers will eventually consume their media is a fascinating read. The article omits any mention of the potential for cars eventually driving themselves, leaving “drivers” more free to consume media.

Rocky Wirtz wanted Susannah Collins out… News surfaced later on Friday that it was Chicago Blackhawks Chairman Rocky Wirtz who initiated the  firing of sideline reporter Susannah Collins from Comcast SportsNet Chicago. In a letter to CSN Chicago, Wirtz said that the organization was disturbed at the videos of Collins as co-host of the web show “Sports Nutz.” Wirtz stated had he been previously aware of them, objections would have been raised at the time of her hiring. As noted Friday by Larz of Chicagoland Radio & Media, CSN Chicago was aware of Collin’s role on “Sports Nutz.”  There’s also been rampant speculation that the Blackhawks may have already had grievances towards her, while a separate source of mine strongly indicated on Friday she was already on her way out prior to last week’s slip of the tongue.

Who knows how much more lies beneath the surface. If it was a simple case of Rocky Wirtz demanding her removal because of those videos, that leaves a bad taste in my mouth. It’s unfair that Collins was let go for something that her employer was fully aware of when hiring her.

Wirtz has fully demonstrated that he is indeed his late father’s son.

[At the time of originally posting this, I accidentally referenced John Dickey as CEO of Cumulus when describing his defense of radio’s consolidation. John is the Co-COO while his brother Lew is CEO. That has since been corrected. I apologize for the mistake.]

For Art Bell fans hoping for a return to radio, it’s been a long and bumpy ride

Art BellThe bumper music for “Coast to Coast AM” often asks the question “Wanna take a ride?” Art Bell’s fans have been on a ride for some time now, with many anxiously holding out hope that the former “Coast to Coast AM” host will one day return to radio.

Yesterday, many of those fans were disappointed when Bell posted the following message on Facebook:

I guess it is time to end any further speculation that I will return to the air anytime soon. I have given (2) very solid offers a lot of thought and have turned them down. My reasons are many, though I am profoundly sad at the current state of the show, both offers would have been direct competition with Coast and anger is the wrong reason to proceed. Also I really do not want to destroy what I built despite it’s current state. Asia will be in first grade in the Fall and getting up very early, I would be up late and sleeping late, I would not see much of her or Airyn. Life is short and I want to spend what I have left with my Family. I hope my friends understand…

This is the second time this year Bell announced he has turned down an offer(s) after previously hinting at the chance of a return. On both occasions, Bell stated it would not be right for him to take such offers with anger towards “Coast to Coast AM” as his main motivation.

Bell, known for his repeated retirements and returns has surprisingly been consistent since his last “Coast to Coast AM” broadcast on Oct. 31, 2010. He hasn’t been on the air.

There never was an official announcement by Bell or the program. When fan’s later questioned why Bell wasn’t filling in during any of the winter holiday shows that year, regular host George Noory made quick mention to the fact that Art was wanting to spend more time with his family and that he has probably retired for good.

Things got interesting after Bell joined Facebook in 2011. At first, Bell was mostly coy, insisting that even though he was now retired, to never rule anything out. It was last summer when Bell finally began to air his grievances against the show.

The first surprise post was Bell declaring “I wish my name was no longer associated with what Coast has become!”

Bell later clarified his wish for Premiere Radio (the Clear Channel owned syndicator of “Coast to Coast AM”) to no longer air the classic “Art Bell – Somewhere in Time” programs. Bell hinted that he would soon exercise his right to free speech if Premiere didn’t cease airing those shows. Since then, those programs continue to air and despite Bell talking about no longer being under contract with Premiere and some talk about turning down other offers, he hasn’t really exercised that free speech.

At best, I was more or less a casual fan of Bell as a young teen, listening to “Coast” when up late on summer vacation or when listening to his Sunday evening “Dreamland” shows. At that age, I had a sense that most of the callers and guests were likely making it all up, but it still made excellent “theater” — something that is completely lost when when listening to Noory’s modern day “Coast” shows.

With each time Bell announces that he has turned down an offer, one would have to think the chances of a return become less likely. It’s been interesting to observe Bell’s fans on either the Coast Gab forum or the People who Miss Art Bell Facebook group. Many of his fans have slowly realized the day he returns to the air will never come. Some have speculated that Bell is deliberately steering his fans in a roundabout direction simply to generate buzz. Many, however, still hold out hope for a return, in any capacity — full-time or part-time; terrestrial, satellite or podcast.

While Bell has always been somewhat of an odd individual, I tend to doubt he is deliberately steering his fans towards a dead end. If anything, I would guess he would love to return to the air full time, at age 40, as opposed to near 70.

Intentional or not, Bell is steering his fans on a ride all right. And for those holding out hope, there’s no end in sight.

Knee-jerk reaction from Comcast SportsNet Chicago puts Susannah Collins out of a job

Susannah CollinsOn Tuesday night, Comcast SportsNet sideline reporter Susannah Collins was likely willing to laugh at her slip of the tongue statement in which she said on air that the Chicago Blackhawks had enjoyed a tremendous amount of sex. Just 48 hours later, any such laughing would come to an end.

The Chicago Tribune reports that Comcast SportsNet and Collins parted ways last night, due to increased attention focused on videos of when she co-hosted the more raunchier sports show “Sports Nutz.” According to the Tribune piece, the decision was made out of concern of journalism integrity. As Scott King at ChicagoNow wrote, her performance on “Sports Nutz” is what likely lead to her breaking out in the first place. King has further harsh criticism for the CSN Chicago decision, as does  Dead Spin which rightfully notes that the gig didn’t prevent the network from hiring her last summer.

670 The Score/WSCR-AM midday host Dan McNeil made mention on his show yesterday that Collins was scheduled to come on, but that the appearance was cancelled. It was speculated that CSN Chicago did not want continued focus on her Tuesday night gaffe.

So did CSN Chicago not thoroughly research their employee before hiring her? And how does that gig compromise the network’s journalism integrity? She was a beautiful sideline reporter, hired because of her sex appeal! I don’t see how her performance on “Sports Nutz” would compromise her ability to maintain integrity as a sideline reporter or as a fill-in anchor.

Should the NHL permanently move the start of its regular season to January?

Chicago Blackhawks

Putting any hard feelings from the NHL lockout aside, I have to admit that the late start of this year’s regular season and subsequent late start for the playoffs has been kind of nice.

Think back to the Chicago Blackhawks 24 game streak and the amount of positive press both the team and the league got. Would they have gotten the same amount of buzz if the regular season had begun in early October instead of early January?

In October, you have the on-going NFL regular season, the entire MLB post-season which is soon followed by the start of the NBA regular season. This year’s NHL start happened in the midst of college basketball, a two month old NBA season and weekend NFL playoff games. Still, that seems like a lot less clutter then in October.

What if it was like this each year? You start the NHL season on New Year’s Day with the Winter Classic. The playoffs begin in mid-June, just after the conclusion of the NBA Finals.

By summer, baseball is on the verge of becoming boring to many people. Also, the week of the MLB All-Star Game, which is typically deemed the most boring sports week of the year, is now occupied by the added excitement of post-season hockey (except on that Tuesday)!

If this worked as well as I suggest, television ratings increase, league attendance increases and the NHL becomes healthier. Again, all this assuming that people are willing to watch hockey when its 95 degrees outside. I would like to think that if the hockey is that good, then the people will watch.

Does any of this seem plausible or am I just absolutely crazy and should never blog about hockey again?

Odds & Ends

– Speaking of hockey, the entire NHL post-season is covered television wise thanks to the NBC Sports Group. The first round of the NHL playoffs will air on the NBC Sports Network, CNBC and the NHL Network.

The caveat… NBC apparently has decided to do this on the cheap. Awful Announcing recaps how last night’s Sharks and Canucks game on NBCSN (NBC Sports Network) was not a true national broadcast. Instead, NBCSN aired the local CSN Bay Area broadcast, meaning the national audience got to hear the Sharks’ home team announcers.

At this very moment, I have CNBC on which is televising the Senators and Canadiens game courtesy of CBC (a television network out of Canada).

NBC and parent company Comcast are far from poor. There is no excuse for NBC to not have put 100% effort into their post-season games, even if it only is the first round. This is rather disappointing on the part of NBC.

– The local SportsCenter anchors on WMVP-AM/ESPN 1000 in Chicago are now opening their updates by saying “Live from the ESPN Chicago newsroom,” before introducing themselves. The new scripted opening sounds awkward and is unnecessary. It doesn’t make the update or the station seem anymore more impressive. While the opening script won’t do anything to further damage the station, it just is one more odd decision coming from ESPN 1000 management.

– While on the topic of sports update openings, WSCR-AM/670 The Score has been beginning their Scoreboard Updates with the anchor saying “From the Chicago Wolves update studio,” before introducing his or herself, followed by a brief snippet about Wolves tickets being affordable. The Wolves have been sponsoring those openings for a long time now — well over a year.

I’ve always wondered how this is working for them. Usually once the sponsored reading is over, there’s no further mention of the Wolves in the update — never a score or injury news. I suppose if they continue to pay for this sponsorship, they must be getting something out of it. If you would have asked me a year ago though, I would have predicted “waste of money.”

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.