Chicago Sun-Times
Lewis Lazare follows Chicago media and marketing news

April 2010 Archives

The search is on. A spokeswoman for Zig/Chicago told us today that the agency is indeed searching for a new creative leader to replace the departed Stephen Leps, who is believed to be en route to a new creative post at Leo Burnett/Chicago. The spokeswoman said she doesn't know how long Zig executives in Chicago and Toronto, where the agency's flagship office is located, will spend looking for someone. "They have to find the right person," she said. If recent history is any indication, of course, it typically takes quite a while for Chicago ad agencies to find someone willing and able to lead a creative department.

The question then becomes: How much time does Zig/Chicago have? The agency failed to land any big or high-profile accounts during the 15 months or so Leps was running the show creatively, and new business wins had been slow in coming even before Leps arrived promising to shake up things. We're told there was a going-away party for Leps a couple of weeks ago. There was plenty of alcohol on hand, but Leps reportedly made no big farewell speech. He just quietly ended his tenure at Zig.

Alison Scholly has joined Chicago Public Radio in the newly-created position of chief operating officer, effective June 1, 2010. She will report directly to Chicago Public Radio president and CEO Torey Malatia. Scholly, 42, will be responsible for overseeing senior staff, managing day-to-day operations and maintaining standards in all aspects of the Chicago Public Radio organization.

Scholly spent 14 years at the Tribune Co., where among other things she was chief steward of and was responsible for the Web site content and operations for seven years. She also was general manager of Chicago Tribune's interactive business, editor of, and a founding member of the RedEye team, the Trib's daily commuter paper.

"Alison understands media, especially interactive, and knows how to find efficiencies while enhancing meaningful service," said Malatia. Scholly most recently was president of Chicago-based Leap Real Estate Systems, an online real estate marketing start-up.

Is the outspoken Mancow Muller headed for a berth at Tribune Co.-owned WGN-AM (720)? Rumors swirled Thursday that Muller and WGN were talking. But WGN general manager Tom Langmyer dismissed the rumor. "We talk to a lot of people all the time," said Langmyer.

For more than a year, WGN program director Kevin Metheny has been busy making numerous programming and talent changes at the station. In so doing, he has angered a number of longtime WGN fans, many of whom have said they no longer can relate to the station. But Metheny also has been adamant about trying to woo a younger 25 to 54-year-old listener base, and he maintains much of what he has done at WGN was done with that goal in mind.

Muller was unceremoniously cut loose earlier this year from Citadel Broadcasting's news/talk WLS-AM (890), where he had been paired with Pat Cassidy, who has since returned as morning drive co-anchor at all-news WBBM-AM (780). Cisco Cotto was moved from afternoon drive, where he was briefly paired with Roe Conn, to fill the mid-morning slot vacated by Muller and Cassidy at WLS-AM. At the time of his dismissal from WLS, Muller was vocal about the raw deal he believes he had gotten from the station.

The Publicity Club of Chicago will present Lifetime Achievement Awards to Margie Korshak and Aaron Cushman at its 51st annual Golden Trumpet Awards ceremony, May 7, at the Palmer House Hilton Hotel in Chicago.

Aaron Cushman founded Cushman/Amberg Communications in Chicago in 1952, as Aaron D. Cushman and Associates. Today Cushman/Amberg is an independent communications agency headquartered in Chicago with an office in St. Louis and global reach through its long-time partnership in Public Relations Organization International. From his early days as an entertainment publicist promoting The Three Stooges, Sammy Davis Jr. and other entertainment luminaries, Aaron Cushman expanded his firm to handle other local Chicago accounts and eventually Fortune 500 companies. The agency developed a speciality in travel and tourism.

Margie Korshak is chairman of Margie Korshak Inc., one of Chicago's 10 largest public relations/events firms. Korshak began her career in 1967, in the PR department of the American Furniture Mart and founded her own agency at age 29. As press rep for Broadway in Chicago, Korshak has been instrumental in helping restore the vitality of the city's downtown theater scene. She also helped shape the face of Chicago retail business, providing PR counsel to Sears, Bloomingdale's, Crate & Barrel and Gap, among others.

Chicago journalist Nancy Loo and WBBM-Channel 2 weekend anchor Jim Williams will host the Publicity Club awards event. The Publicity Club's Golden Trumpet Awards recognize excellence in the public relations industry.

On May 2, 2010, the legendary radio DJ Dick Biondi will celebrate the 50th anniversary of his first broadcast on WLS-AM (890). In honor of the occasion, Biondi will host a special broadcast on WLS-FM (94.7) on May 2, from 7 pm to 12 am. The broadcast will be simulcast on news/talk WLS-AM (890) and will feature stories and highlights from Biondi's career, along with special guests. Biondi fans can call 312-984-5350 and congratulate him or share a story about listening to Biondi at some point over the past five decades. Some of this messages will be played during the special May 2nd broadcast.

Biondi began his broadcasting career in New York City, but moved to Chicago in 1960, and worked at WLS-AM. In the early 1960's, Biondi was the nation's No. 1 disc jockey, averaging a 60 share of the national audience. Biondi has been inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame and the radio wing of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Suzanne O'Leary Lopez has joined Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide/Chicago as executive vice-president and group director of the agency's Chicago corporate practice. Nathan Friedman previously held the position, before his promotion in January to managing director. Lopez will help lead new business efforts, provide senior counsel to clients and oversee the growing Ogilvy PR corporate practice in Chicago

Previously, Lopez was assistant vice-president of public relations and corporate communications at Thornburg Mortgage Inc., where she developed and implemented corporate positioning and reputation management programs, and served as the primary spokesperson for the company. "I was drawn to Ogilvy PR because of the strong leadership team and unique culture," said Lopez.

FarnsworthInvention_248.jpgTimeline Theatre Co., one of Chicago's most ambitious mid-sized theater companies, is currently presenting the Chicago premiere of "The Farnsworth Invention," a play by Aaron Sorkin that seeks to dramatize the complicated history surrounding the birth of the television set. That, of course, is an invention that has shaped the culture of America -- and, indeed, the world -- in ways that those involved could never have fully imagined.

Sorkin has crafted his drama in such a way as to make the invention of the television -- at heart -- a hard-fought battle between one man Philo Farnsworth, who had a notion of how a television could work, and the corporate behemoth RCA, which is embodied in the play in the ruthless titan David Sarnoff.

That fierce fight between the relatively powerless, but brilliant Farnsworth and a Sarnoff determined to tap into the rich potential he saw in the television technology is certainly what is most compelling about Sorkin's play. Unfortunately, Sorkin has opted to add a lot of material dealing with the technicalities of how Farnsworth went about creating the television in agonizing fits and starts. And this material too often gets in the way of the human conflict and bogs down the proceedings.

Still, if one can sit patiently while much of the technical detail about the creation of the TV is addressed in the play's longish -- and more sluggish -- first act, theatergoers will be rewarded with a more satisfying second act where the mettle of both Farnsworth and Sarnoff is dearly tested. For fans of television and all that it has spawned, the history and the characters that Sorkin explores in "The Farnsworth Invention" are well worth one's time. "The Farnsworth Invention," beautifully produced and well-acted in the Timeline version, runs through June 13.

Pardon us if we sound like a broken record, but the Chicago Blackhawks TV ratings records just keep coming and coming.

And another one materialized Monday night. Comcast SportsNet Chicago delivered its highest Blackhawks rating ever Monday night for the sixth game in the Stanley Cup playoff series between the Hawks and the Nashville Predators. It turned out to be the game that clinched a series victory for the Blackhawks. The Game Six telecast scored a 9.24 rating, which shattered the previous single Hawks game ratings record of 7.82, set on May 11, 2009, in a second round, Game 6, clinching win vs. the Vancouver Canucks.

Comcast SportsNet also was the highest-rated television outlet in the Chicago market Monday night for the key advertising demo of adults 25 to 54 for entire duration of the Hawks game against the Predators.

Cougar Phone.jpgEuro RSCG/Chicago has completed its first two 15-second spots for Hornitos tequila, and they are both tied to the theme "Nights of Greater Possibilities." In "Cougar Phone," a guy has come over to visit a buddy and tell him about the hot cougar he ran into -- at a bar we suppose. "Cougar" is the slang term for an older woman who digs younger men.

When the guy phones his female conquest, the cell phone on his friend's table begins to ring. When the friend calls out to his mother that she has a phone call, we realize the cougar the guy is lusting after is, in fact, his friend's mom. The campaign tagline is "Hornitos Premium Tequila. Purer Than Your Intentions." "Cougar Phone" feels a little too rushed (as is often the case with 15-second commercials), and therefore not as amusing as it might have been with more time to build up to the phone call.

A second spot "Doris" is about a female bartender with a well-developed fashion sense who does a good deed for a patron who wants to spend time with some women in the bar instead of reporting for work. Again, Doris seems to be an interesting character who gets short shrift in 15 seconds -- robbing the spot of a lot of its potential.

Kevin Roy out at WLS-Channel 7


General assignment reporter and weekend morning anchor Kevin Roy is out at WLS-Channel 7, the city's top-rated news station. According to WLS general manager Emily Barr, Roy's contract was not renewed. Roy did not show up for work this past weekend, when he was to have anchored the station's early morning newscasts on Sunday. Reporters Michelle Gallardo and Ben Bradley hustled to fill in for the absent Roy.

Tuesday afternoon Roy issued the following statement: "I'm profoundly sorry that WLS has decided not to renew my contract when it expires, though I understand the reason. By failing to show up at my appointed time, I abused the station's reliance on me. To those who might speculate on the reason, be assured that my problem is one of physical exhaustion only. I only wish I had taken the opportunity to take some time off, rather than try to muscle through. WLS has been my refuge for 12 years. I'll deeply miss my association with the station and my colleagues. I'm committed to remaining here (in Chicago)."

The sudden exit of Roy marks a rare blemish on the well-oiled news machine at WLS, where Barr and her news director Jennifer Graves take their top ranking in the local news ratings very seriously and expect those in their employ to do likewise.

By all accounts, Roy had been a highly-competent reporter during his 12-year tenure at WLS. He won five Emmys for his work at WLS over the years, including one for his report "A Son of Suicide," in which he talked about his family's experience in the wake of his mother's suicide. Roy also had an interest in architecture and won top honors in 2001 from the Associated Press of Illinois, which honored his special segment on the architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

Kathy Byrne has been named the new director of television theatrical and freelance organizing for the Chicago Local of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and Branch of Screen Actors Guild. Byrne will assume her new position on May,17,2010, and will report to AFTRA/SAG Chicago's executive director Eric Chaudron.

Byrne will oversee the AFTRA and SAG television agreements, administer the Guild's theatrical contracts, including the student film and low budget agreements, and focus on creating more work opportunities for union performers. Byrne worked for 19 years in the Chicago Film Office. She has been in the Mayors Office of Special Events coordinating Chicago's Outdoor Film Festival since 2006, and working on Mayor Daley's Holocaust Remembrance Day and the Memorial Day Commemorative Ceremony since 2008.

Byrne will succeed assistant executive director Kit Woods,retiring in June after serving SAG and AFTRA members for 33 years, first in Atlanta, then in Chicago since 1991.

liveboywalking.jpgGun-related violence is not an obvious topic to wax witty about, but Young & Rubicam/Chicago nonetheless has tried to do so in a new pro-bono ad campaign for the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence. No one is going to argue that gun violence isn't a problem in Chicago. It certainly is. And a big one for which no one seems to have a viable solution. But in the absence of one, ICHV and Y&R are trying to remind the public that something has to be done -- and soon.

Y&R's effort to draw attention to the problem involves kids fashion and bullet-proof vests. In a series of bus shelter executions we see adorable children dressed in the latest spring fashion -- which in each instance also includes a vest to protect against gunshots.

In one ad, we see two young girls and the headline "Alive on Arrival," along with ad copy that states in part: "Whether it's just a bit chilly or raining bullets, this cozy vest is sure to protect your child from all the elements." Another ad features a young boy and the headline "Live Boy Walking," together with ad copy that says in part: "Turn the local park back into a playground. This vest fits snug, while leaving arms and hands free to raise in the air for that 'don't shoot I'm innocent' stance."

There is more copy in both ads that points out that more than 150 kids have been shot this year in Chicago -- more than 25 of them shot dead. The statistics are grim indeed, which is why it may be hard for some who see these ads to smile at the thought of combining bullet-proof vests with the latest fashion sense. In other words, tone and message in the ads don't quite mesh. But at least the problem is getting some attention. The ads will go up on 50 bus shelters throughout the city.

Who knew? Perhaps everyone expected the fifth game of the Stanley Cup playoff series between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Nashville Predators would be one worth watching. But who could have predicted it would be the unbelievably thrilling cliffhanger it was, with the Blackhawks coming from behind to tie the game with mere seconds to go in regulation, and then going on to win in overtime. Great stuff. And NBC, which televised the game nationally, got lucky when it chose to broadcast that game just days before it was played.

The game telecast was a hit for the network in Chicago, where it delivered a 7.7 rating -- making it the No. 1-rated program in the market for the entire day. The Blackhawks-Preds game even beat out a new edition of "Saturday Night Live" later that evening. And it should come as no surprise that the telecast scored the highest ratings of any game in the series to date. Now we can only wait and wonder what tonight's sixth game of the series holds in store!?

WMAQ-Channel 5 is slated to run a fourth installment of "The Best of Blackhawks TV" from 1:30 to 2 p.m. on Saturday, just prior to NBC's broadcast of the fifth game in the Stanley Cup playoff series between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Nashville Predators.

Included in the special are behind-the-scenes footage of the team at the "Jay Leno Show," a look at Blackhawks fever sweeping through Chicago, Patrick Kane's behind-the-scenes footage from the 2010 Winter Olympics, and Andrew Ladd's and Kris Versteeg's surprise visit to the Palace Grill diner on Madison Street after practice this past winter. The special also will include moments from Dan Akroyd's appearance at a Blackhawks's game last season. Akroyd will be seen driving the Blackhawks Blues Mobile to the United Center.

DAVIES_JANET_clr_email.jpgWLS-Channel 7 will air the special presentation " Billy Elliot Dances His Way Into Chicago" on Sunday at 10:30 p.m., with an encore presentation slated for Saturday, May 1, at 11:35 p.m. The special will take viewers on to the red carpet at the opening night of the musical "Billy Eliot" in Chicago. WLS entertainment reporter and "190 North" host Janet Davies will host the half-hour special that will include an interview with Sir Elton John, who composed the music for the Tony Award-winning show. The four young actors who will play the role of Billy Elliot during the Chicago engagement at the Ford Center for the Performing Arts will discuss their part in the show as well. The special presentation also will examine how the musical's creators developed their stage production from the film on which it is based.

Alberto Mier y Teran has been named vice-president and general manager of Univision 66/ WXFT Telefutura Channel 60 in Chicago, effective April 26. Mier y Teran will be based in Chicago and report to Ramon Pineda, senior vice-president and regional director, Univision Television Group.

"Alberto's robust experience in station management, new business development and local community relations outreach made him the ideal candidate to leverage opportunities for Univision and Telefutura in Chicago," said Pineda. "I know that his extensive understanding of the Hispanic population, and his commitment to our mission of informing, entertaining and empowering our community will help us develop an even greater reach with the Chicago area," added Pineda.

"I am thrilled to be joining Univision and Telefutura in Chicago and look forward to working closely with the talented team already in place," said Mier y Teran, who most recently was vice-president and general manager for KBNT Univision 17/KDTF Telefutura 36 in San Diego.

The Chicago Fire soccer club has selected a trio of agency partners to assist with marketing the team. They are Schafer Condon Carter/Chicago, All-Terrain and PACO Communications.

SCC will be responsible for brand positioning, advertising campaign development and activation and ongoing brand stewardship. All-Terrain will provide broad-based strategic marketing support, including experiential and grassroots marketing, sponsorship activation, social media/mobile platform campaigns, media relations and influencer marketing. PACO Communications will handle Hispanic creative, media placement and tactical application of the Fire's brand initiatives.

The Fire, in conjunction with all three shops, is launching a new marketing campaign with the theme line "We Are the Fire," an effort designed to appeal to passionate soccer fans who are emotionally engaged with the game.

Has Chicago's ad industry lost the "wow" factor? We wondered about that after we got word from Porter Airlines this morning that, for now, the carrier isn't going to award any project assignments to Chicago ad agencies.

This news comes after executives from Porter visited several Chicago ad agencies (more than one and fewer than five reportedly) several weeks ago. Zig/Chicago and Two by Four/Chicago were believed to be two of the shops Porter visited.

The purpose of the visits, we were told, was to assess the agencies and decide whether Porter wanted to work with any of them on Chicago-specific marketing projects. Porter spokesman Brad Cicero has just informed us that Winkreative/London remains the Toronto-based airline's agency of record. As for any decision about using a Chicago-based partner, Cicero said this morning that it was still "considering" such a possibility, but "the process is ongoing." Who knows what the process is, however, and how long it will be ongoing. And, more importantly, whether it will ever yield a Chicago ad agency partner for the carrier.

But nothing the Porter executives apparently saw or heard during their recent visit compelled them to rush to sign up a Chicago shop. Which is unfortunate. Because although the airline industry has been in a state of tumult for some time, it remains a sexy category to be in, to be sure. And an interesting marketing challenge for those agencies that do have airline accounts.

In any event, Chicago agencies seem to have failed to deliver the kind of "wow" presentations that could have immediately brought some Porter business to Chicago. So while we're in the midst of this slump in the Chicago ad industry, maybe everyone in the biz needs to rethink how to give their new biz pitches more of that "wow" factor. Couldn't hurt.

Richard Fielding has been named to the newly-created position of chief client officer at Kantar Media North America. Fielding will oversee development and promotion of new services and core products. Fielding was most recently vice-president, director global research group, for Starcom MediaVest Group, where he was responsible for developing and deploying core agency consumer insight-based tools for the agency's network. "The fluid nature of media today necessitates constant innovation and product development to service the evolving needs of clients on both the buy and sell side of the industry," said Terry Kent, Kantar Media managing director. Fielding will be based in Chicago and report directly to Kent.

It's awards show season, and the Chicago chapter of the Association of Independent Creative Editors is hosting the national organization's annual awards show on May 20, at the Field Museum.

With the theme line "The Revolution Will Be Edited," this year's awards show will be at the Field Museum. The AICE awards show recognizes the best work done in a wide range of post-production and TV commercial categories.

The AICE will announce the award finalists, we're told, in just a few days. And soon thereafter, AICE will say who it plans to induct into its Hall of Fame this year. The Chicago chapter of AICE last hosted the awards event in a well-orchestrated ceremony three years ago at Navy Pier.

hernandez_david_port.JPGDavid Hernandez is rejoining Ogilvy & Mather/Chicago as managing director of OgilvyOne and executive creative director of Ogilvy & Mather. Hernandez previously worked at OgilvyOne from 2003 to 2009, before joining Tribal DDB in Chicago as managing director.

Hernandez's jump back to Ogilvy comes as Tribal DDB/Chicago is going through a massive downsizing in the wake of the loss of its State Farm business to DraftFCB/Chicago. There had been talk a couple of months ago of Tribal DDB merging its operations with sibling DDB/Chicago, which has been in a major slump for several years. But several high-up DDB operatives were reportedly resisting such a merger.

Hernandez's return to Ogilvy is part of the shop's efforts to position itself as a digitally-savvy operation. "David is an exceptional digital leader who will be a great addition to our Chicago management team," said Jack Rooney, president, O&M/Chicago. "David's expanded creative role is designed to provide digital creative leadership across all agency disciplines," added Joe Sciarrotta, chief creative officer of Ogilvy & Mather/Chicago.

WBBM-Channel 2 news director Jeff Kiernan will be honored with the Communicator of the Year Award from the Marquette University J. William and Mary Diederich College of Communication and the Marquette University Alumni Association in a ceremony on Saturday, Apr. 24. Kiernan earned his bachelor's degree in journalism from Marquette.

Before joining WBBM as news director in early 2009, Kiernan honed his skills at TV stations in Milwaukee, Minneapolis and Boston. Kiernan credits "60 Minutes" and his dad for helping him learn the importance of listening and making him interested in a career in journalism. "It is a gift to witness everyday history," Kiernan said, adding "it is a gift to inform viewers of that history through pictures and sound."

Leinie-5.jpgJacobson Rost/Chicago has just completed a new round of advertising for Leinenkugel's, that small but beloved beer brand based in Chippewa Falls, Wis. And the new work -- which includes TV for the first time in a long while -- is everything most beer advertising isn't: simple and honest and engaging and thankfully devoid of any whiff of frat house shtick.

Jacobson Rost chief creative officer Steve Simoncic shot the new ads on a tight budget on location in and around scenic Chippewa Falls. A couple of the Leinenkugel boys -- Jake and John -- are seen in the work talking up the virtues of running a brewery in a place where the daily commute is a glorious walk through the woods. Simoncic said he was aiming for TV work that is "positive and authentic," and he got it. Big time.

Sports analyst Peter Gammons will join CBS Radio Chicago's sports talk WSCR-AM (670) once per week on Fridays during the "Mully and Hanley" morning drive show, and he will do a daily commentary on baseball for the station. Gammons is currently on the MLB Network and is the senior baseball analyst for Sporting News Radio. In addition to the aforementioned media outlets, Gammons will be making similar appearances for CBS Radio sports-oriented outlets in Philadelphia, Boston, Baltimore and Pittsburgh.

"We're thrilled to have Peter on the Score team of experts to analyze baseball like no one else in the business," said WSCR program director Mitch Rosen, adding "Peter is a Hall of Fame broadcaster/journalist who might be the most informed insider involved in major league baseball."

The Chicago Rush and Impact Networking have entered into a multi-year partnership agreement. The agreement gives Impact Networking a significant presence at Allstate Arena during each Rush home game, including sponsorship of the "Impact Play of the Game," which will run during the fourth quarter of every home game. In return, Impact Networking will provide the Rush with digital office equipment, supplies and maintenance for the team's front office and football operations departments.

"Impact Networking is one of the leaders in its industry, and we are pleased to be able to call ourselves their partner for this season and beyond," said Rush president and general manager Ken Valdiserri. Waukegan-based Impact was recently selected by Crain's Chicago Business as one of the 2009 Fast Fifty, a list of Chicago's 50 fastest growing companies. Impact Networking helps businesses create, distribute and manage documents by providing leading-edge solutions, support and technology.

Innovation agency Maddock Douglas in Elmhurst has named Maria Umbach its vice-president of financial services innovation, heading a first-of-its-kind insurance and financial services platform for innovation.

Umbach joins Maddock Douglas with 26 years of financial services experience, most recently as vice-president and chief marketing officer for Guardian Life Insurance Co. of America. Prior to that, she was vice-president of life insurance marketing for Prudential.

"Maria's role is to help companies spark innovation from the inside out by capitalizing on emerging trends, consumer preferences and communications modalities that are reshaping financial services from banking and investments to insurance and financial advice," said Raphael Louis Viton, president of Maddock Douglas.

Smooth jazz WLFM-FM (87.7) is bringing back the Smooth Jazz Sunday Brunch program that was a popular staple on former smooth jazz outlet WNUA-FM (95.5). The new iteration of the show will launch Apr. 25, and will broadcast live each Sunday from 10 am to 2 pm from Rosebud Prime at 1 S. Dearborn St. in the loop.

WLFM program director, mid-day host and former WNUA veteran Rick O'Dell will host this latest incarnation of the Smooth Jazz Sunday Brunch every other Sunday, with other WLFM talent fronting the show on alternate Sundays. "The quality and tradition of the Rosebud restaurants combined with the music of our show -- it'll be a unique Sunday morning experience," promised O'Dell.

The first version of the Smooth Jazz Sunday Brunch started at the Hotel Nikko (now the Westin River North) in 1993, and segued several years later to the Chicago Hilton & Towers, before it was taken off the air at WNUA in 2007. In May of 2009, Clear Channel Radio Chicago pulled the plug on the smooth jazz format on WNUA and replaced it with a hot Spanish hits format.

Celebrity guests and fine dining were a staple of the first edition of the jazz brunch, and according to WLFM executives, those traditions will continue in this second go-round for the program.

Darlene Hill is the new co-host of WVAZ-FM's (102.7) "Chicago Speaks," replacing Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mary Mitchell, who departed in January. Hill, who started her new job on Apr. 11, will co-host the show with the radio station's news director Ty Wansley.

A general assignment reporter for Fox-owned WFLD-Channel 32, Hill is a three-time Emmy Award winner and a recipient of the Edward R. Murrow Award. "I can't be more excited about a journalist of Darlene's caliber joining our line-up," said Derrick Brown, director of urban programming for Clear Channel Radio Chicago. "She has built a strong reputation of asking tough questions and has an uncanny way of getting to the crux of issues affecting our community," added Brown.

"Chicago Speaks" is the only public affairs call-in community forum serving Chicago's African-American audience on a commercial FM radio station in the city. The program, which debuted in January, 2007. airs from 6 am to 8 am on Sundays.

Rumors swirled Wednesday that Lou Beres & Associates/Chicago had shut its doors, but the doors aren't shut completely. At least not yet, according to agency chairman Cathy Beres, who finally got in touch with us.

"We have substantially downsized, but we are still an entity," said Beres, who declined to say what clients the agency still had beyond the University of Virginia Darden School of Business, ReachMD and Medline/Curad. Cathy Beres also wouldn't say how many staff are still employed at the shop. Nor would she talk about the shop's future, except to note that Lou Beres & Associates has been struggling like many other local ad agencies.

Indeed the situation at Lou Beres speaks to the continued difficulties many smaller Chicago shops have experienced getting -- and maintaining -- a client base that can allow them to keep the doors open in an extraordinarily tough economy. The Chicago Creative Partnership also recently closed.

The Lou Beres shop was known primarily for its work for the American Medical Association and the Illinois Department of Transportation. But aside from some pretty good work for those two pieces of business, the agency had not managed to make much headway. Beres' chief creative officer Andy Madorsky certainly tried to generate a profile for Lou Beres & Associates within the Chicago ad community, but it apparently hasn't been enough.

Now some in the local ad community wonder which other shops might soon opt to shut down. With Zig/Chicago creative leader Stephen Leps apparently headed for Leo Burnett/Chicago after a little more than a year trying to get Zig going, some think Zig's Toronto-based management might opt to close down its small Chicago operation rather than go through a search for a new creative leader and then wait to see whether that person can do what Leps didn't.

Jim Ryan has been named vice-president, adult contemporary programming, for the CBS Radio chain's 14 stations that have an adult contemporary format. In addition to his oversight responsibilities for all of CBS Radio's adult contemporary stations, Ryan will serve as hands-on program director for WCFS-FM (105.9) in Chicago and its sister station in New York.

Ryan will be responsible for increasing brand awareness and gaining listenership and ratings for CBS Radio's AC-formatted stations. "CBS Radio is known for being a destination where the industry's strongest programmers grow and thrive," said Ryan of his new role within CBS Radio. Ryan most recently was head of his own consulting company, Jim Ryan Media, where he advised top radio stations, including outlets in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Houston. In addition Ryan provided portable people meter analysis to influential clients in the talk radio industry

Duluth Trading Co., a quirky, but no-nonsense work apparel company based in Belleville, Wis., is coming to Chicago this Friday to find out whether people here suffer from what is quaintly known as "plumber's butt."

Exposure Meter 1.JPGFor the uninitiated, that would be a problem that arises when a plumber -- or anyone for that matter -- bends over and his or her shirt becomes untucked, thereby exposing a significant part of the person's lower back. The plumber's butt investigation has been conveniently timed to coincide with the kitchen and bath trade show in Chicago. To test for the problem, Duluth Trading representatives will be roaming the streets with an "Exposure Meter," a four-foot apparatus designed to measure levels of backside skin exposure. Levels of exposure range from "not so modest" at the low end to "there's been a breach" and "overexposed" for the worst offenders.

The plumber's butt exercise is part of an ongoing effort by Duluth Trading to gain wider exposure among consumers. The company also is currently testing a fun TV ad campaign developed by Planet Propaganda in Madison, Wis. The ads are being tested in Madison, Minneapolis and Denver. No decision about whether the campaign will go national is expected until the end of the year. In the meantime, the company will continue to try and lure new customers with its colorful catalogues and their straightfoward product descriptions designed to suggest this company means business. Or should we say work.

As had been rumored for some time, the Chicago Blackhawks have opted to extend their relationship with Tribune Co.-owned WGN-AM (720), the radio home for Blackhawks games since the start of the 2008-09 season. Prior to signing with WGN, the Blackhawks were a fixture on sports talk WSCR-AM (670).

The new agreement announced Tuesday will keep Blackhawks hockey on 50,000-watt WGN-AM at least through the conclusion of the 2013-14 NHL season. "The Blackhawks brand has experienced substantial growth over the past two years due in part to the massive reach and presence of WGN Radio," said Jay Blunk, Blackhawks senior vice-president of business operations. "The Blackhawks are fortunate to have an exceptional working relationship with such legendary call letters as WGN," added Blunk.

The WGN signal reaches 38 states and Canada, and the station has live Internet streaming. John Wiedeman is the current radio play-by-play announcer for the Blackhawks hockey on WGN, while Troy Murray serves as color analyst. "Our listeners love the Blackhawks, and we will continue to deliver the best for Blackhawks fans," said WGN general manager Tom Langmyer.

The new deal with WGN comes as the Blackhawks are set to begin their first round of 2010 Stanley Cup playoff games on Friday against the Nashville Predators in a best-of-seven Western Conference quarterfinals. This series of games mark the first time in 13 years that the Hawks will make consecutive Stanley Cup playoff appearances.

Pat Cassidy is coming back to all-news WBBM-AM (780) in the morning drive co-anchor job he left in July, 2008. Cassidy's first day back on the job with co-anchor Felicia Middlebrooks will be next Monday, Apr. 19. Cassidy left WBBM nearly two years ago for what he believed at the time would be a new career as a talk show host at news/talk WLS-AM (890), but he never found a slot there that he could comfortably fill. Cassidy and his fellow mid-morning host Mancow Muller were abruptly dropped from WLS in February.

At WBBM, Cassidy will replace John Hultman, a veteran WBBM anchor who came out of retirement to do morning drive after Cassidy's departure for WLS. Hultman will continue to do fill-in work at WBBM from time to time, the station said Monday.

Comcast SportsNetChicago will carry almost all of the first round of the NHL Western Conference playoff games between the Chicago Blackhawks and division rival the Nashville Predators. CSNC will be the exclusive television home in the Chicago market to see games one through four, along with games six and seven if necessary. Game five will air on NBC. Playoff game telecasts will be presented in the high-definition format.

The Hawks' first playoff game is slated for Friday, Apr. 16 at the United Center, with other games between the Blackhawks and Predators scheduled for Sunday, Apr. 18 at the United Center; Tuesday, Apr. 20 at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville; Thursday, Apr. 22 at Bridgestone Arena; Saturday, Apr. 24 at the United Center; Monday, Apr. 26 at Bridgestone Arena, and Wednesday, Apr. 28 at the United Center. Pat Foley and Eddie Olczyk will provide the play-by-lay and analysis for all first-round games that air on Comcast SportsNet.

And so the news has come. In leaks and rumors and and dribs and drabs. And as of today, there is still nothing to confirm, according to a DDB spokeswoman.

But as had been suggested on the gossip vine for several weeks, DDB/Chicago does indeed appear ready to bring in a Brit -- Ewan Paterson from CHI/London -- to try and solve a host of problems at DDB that may prove to be even more than a stiff-upper-lipped bloke from the United Kingdom can handle. It's unclear at this point, of course, just how aware Paterson is of the situation into which he is stepping. But surely he must know no one seemed willing to touch the DDB job for more than two years. A warning sign? Apparently not to Paterson.

Having been well-insulated in the British Isles from all that has plagued DDB for several years, Paterson probably believes his creative prowess alone will be sufficient to enable him to succeed where at least two former top creatives at DDB did not. One of those, Michael Folino, simply threw in the towel and left after six months. The second, Paul Tilley, tragically jumped to his death from a hotel window.

That is but a bit of the troubled history of an agency that Paterson will call home in just a couple of months. He no doubt knows little or nothing about Chicago or the wider range of issues that have affected the ad industry here -- mostly for the worse in recent years.

Paterson will merely be a Brit with some creative credentials coming to the Windy City and hoping he can make a mark at DDB, an agency that tragically seems to have lost its creative mojo. It's a sad situation to walk into, but Paterson is going to give it a whirl. Bets are now being taken on whether he has any chance of succeeding.

Starting today, Garry Meier becomes the new afternoon drive host from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at WGN-AM (720). Meier, who had been doing a two-hour early afternoon gig at WGN for the past year, replaces veteran WGN host Steve Cochran, who will take Meier's old slot from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. The move is the latest in a seemingly unending series of programming and talent upheavals at WGN -- all part of a protracted effort by controversial WGN program director Kevin Metheny to give the station an edgier sound that would attract a younger 25 to 54-year-old demographic.

In a statement Thursday Metheny suggested Meier's promotion to afternoon drive was an attempt to raise his profile as a WGN talent. "Response to Garry's early afternoon show has been great, and we want more people to know he's on WGN Radio, said Metheny, adding "this schedule adjust gets Garry more starts in front of more listeners." It also will give Meier a potential ratings boost from the strong leads-in provided by the Chicago Cubs afternoon game broadcasts on WGN.

Meier, understandably, responded favorably to his new role. "I'm looking forward to my sophomore year at the 'G,' and I intend to enjoy it as much as I did my sophomore year in high school," said Meier.

The move of Meier to afternoon drive also appears timed to help WGN compete more readily with a revamped afternoon drive show on arch-competitor news/talk WLS-AM (890). Starting Monday, WLS afternoon drive host Roe Conn will be joined by Sun-Times columnist Richard Roeper -- an effort by WLS management to give Conn someone to play off of and to give the WLS afternoon show a boost in the ratings, where it has been lagging in recent months. Coincidentally Conn and Meier, who will now compete against each other for afternoon drive listeners, were previously co-hosts at WLS-AM.

Both WGN's and WLS's afternoon drive shows haven't been doing well in the ratings. In the key 25 to 54 demo in the February Arbitron book, WGN's afternoon drive show ranked only 24th, while WLS's show with Conn was tied for 22nd place.

In yet more changes announced at WGN late Thursday, a new talk show starring convicted felon and former city clerk Jim Laski will now air weekdays from 7 to 10 p.m, when not pre-empted by WGN sports broadcasts. And Milt Rosenberg's long-running "Extension 720" will be pushed back an hour, starting now at 10 p.m and running to midnight Monday through Thursday. WGN said the later start time would allow listeners to hear him more regularly, because his show was often pre-empted by sports broadcasts. It will also relegate Rosenberg to a time slot where he is likely to attract fewer listeners. Nick Digilio's Friday night show will air one hour earlier, now running from 10 p.m to 2 a.m., and "The Steve and Johnnie Show" with Steve King and Johnnie Putman will air from midnight to 5 a.m.

R/GA, a New York-based agency that certainly isn't shy about touting its success as a digital-focused shop, is heading to Chicago this year. We're just waiting to find out exactly when and where in the city R/GA expects to put down roots. What is known now is that the shop will partner initially with sister Interpublic shop DraftFCB/Chicago to work on some business for S.C. Johnson, a client the two agencies have in common. It's likely, of course, R/GA's Chicago outpost would look to pick up new accounts that would be handled out of Chicago.

The flagship New York operation has more than 700 employees. The agency has added more than 100 people just since January. It's unknown, as of now, exactly how many would be on staff initially in the Chicago office. R/GA also currently has outposts in San Francisco and London, and expects to add Sao Paulo and Singapore later this year to help with the agency's international Mastercard business.

R/GA mover and shaker Bob Greenberg saw the digital age coming on strong while it was still in its infancy. He reshaped R/GA accordingly, and he's benefitted from the foresight in a big way.

Euro RSCG/Chicago is losing one of its only showcase accounts, Valspar paint. The Valspar account is now reportedly seeking a new agency partner. Valspar was seen as a conflict with Dulux, a paint brand for which Euro RSCG is the new global agency of record.

The $100-million Dulux account, a considerably larger piece of business than Valspar, will be based in Euro RSCG's London office. But a Euro RSCG spokesman said a number of shops in the Euro RSCG network will work on the Dulux account. Though Dulux is a familiar paint brand in many parts of the world, it is not readily available in the United States.

The loss of Valspar leaves a big whole in the Euro RSCG/Chicago account roster. The agency still handles consumer advertising for a handful of clients, including Hornitos tequila, Effen vodka and Barilla pasta. But the Valspar work had garnered considerable attention for the agency. Valspar print work is up for a Kelly Award this year. The Kelly Awards recognize the best in magazine advertising. A Euro RSCG spokesman said the agency's last campaign for Valspar is expected to break in a couple of weeks. The spokesman said the agency does not expect any layoffs due to the loss of the Valspar business.

Stephen Leps, the outgoing creative director at Zig/Chicago, wasn't talking about his future plans last week when he announced he is exiting the shop. All he would say was that he expected to take another job in Chicago in several weeks. Well, if he does wind up taking another job in Chicago -- and nothing is signed on the dotted line yet -- it looks as if it will be at Leo Burnett/Chicago, where chief creative officer Susan Credle is busy revamping the creative department. Leps and Credle are not strangers. The two have known each other for a while, and there was a time when Leps might have wound up at BBDO/New York, Credle's former place of employment. But that moment passed, and Leps opted to stay with Zig/Toronto.

Sports talk WSCR-AM (670) has retained the well-liked Steve Stone as its baseball analyst for the upcoming season. Stone will appear twice per week on the Score: Mondays at 8:20 am on "The Mully and Hanley Show" and again on Fridays at 2 pm during the "Boers and Bernstein Show." This marks the sixth year in a row that Stone will be an analyst for WSCR, in case anyone is counting.

12K_Niblets_Giants.jpgAn exhibit titled "The Real Men and Women of Madison Avenue" opens in Chicago on Apr. 7, at the Congress Gallery, 33 E. Congress. Curated by The One Club, a not-for-profit organization devoted to elevating creative work in the ad industry, the exhibit highlights the work of a number of legends who made the ad industry a fascinating business to observe and be part of back in the day.

The show is divided into sections covering topics that include "the early pioneers," "founders of Madison Avenue," "the creative revolution," and "the modern day empire builders." Memorable ads from famous ad men such as Rosser Reeves, Leo Burnett, David Ogilvy and George Lois, among others, are part of the show. The Chicago presentation, which runs through the end of April, marks the exhibit's first appearance outside New York City. From here it will travel to San Francisco and Toronto. The exhibit is being sponsored in Chicago by Columbia College, with additional support provided by Leo Burnett and DDB.

Ivy Growing Labels.gifTris3ct/Chicago has won a silver Reggie Award for its work on behalf of client Old Style. The award-winning "Grow the Ivy" campaign took the first -- and oldest -- sports sponsorship in history and brought it to life as part of the overall Old Style brand re-launch. The winning work included bottles that really "grew" ivy as you held them, using temperature-sensitive, color-changing ink. The campaign also included in-store displays featuring Wrigley Ivy walls build from 24-pack packaging to Wrigleyville Ivy out-of-home billboards.

The Promotion Marketing Association gives out the Reggie Award, the highest honor in integrated marketing. Winners were selected from among 339 entries.

leps_headshot_color.jpgAfter a little more than a year in the job, Torontonian Stephen Leps is leaving his post as creative director at Zig/Chicago. Leps said he is going to another job in Chicago, but cannot reveal what that is yet. There were high hopes when Leps arrived that he would be able to establish some new momentum at the Zig boutique shop after Kevin Lynch's departure as the agency's top creative. But as the economy went into a tailspin, Leps failed to make much headway, though a spokeswoman for the agency did indicate the shop picked up new business from Unilever and the Tribune Media Group while Leps was in residence. But it was not the kind of big bump up in new business that Leps had suggested he could provide when he first landed in Chicago in early 2009.

Leps told us he is "really excited" about his new gig. Though Leps was a disappointment at Zig, his failure to work wonders there may suggest he is better suited for a job as a hands-on creative than he is for one where he is required to manage and grow an agency. Leps said he is leaving a shop with a staff of 10, including four creatives. He also said he doubted Zig would opt to fold the Chicago outpost at this time. A Zig/Chicago spokeswoman said Zig/Toronto's creative leader Aaron Starkman would oversee work here for the time being while a search for Leps' successor is underway.

Classic rock-formatted WLUP-FM (97.9) afternoon drive host Eddie Webb has gotten his big break. After a two-and-a-half-year stint with the station, he is leaving the Loop for New York, where he will be based to host a new nationally-syndicated classic rock show being developed jointly by Westwood One and VH1 that is set to launch on May 24. "It's a great break for Eddie," said WLUP general manager Marv Nyren, who also indicated the Loop has first dibs on Webb's show here in Chicago. Nyren said he will decide whether to pick it up after he listens to the pilot.

Webb's departure has precipitated some changes in WLUP's talent line-up. WLUP's current morning drive host John Kempf will shift to afternoon drive, which Nyren indicated is the time slot when more listeners now tune in to stations like the Loop. "Afternoons are the new morning drive," said Nyren. And the station's evening host Pete McMurray will move to the morning drive slot. All of these talent shifts will officially kick in on April 19. If Nyren picks up Webb's new classic rock show, that will become the Loop's new evening programming.

Todd Woolman has been named executive producer of "Good Day Chicago," WFLD-Channel 32's marathon five-hour weekday morning show. Effective immediately, Woolman will oversee all editorial content for the show. Previously, Woolman served for seven years as the assistant news director at WBBM-Channel 2, where he worked with Carol Fowler, WFLD's current news director. "Todd's wealth of news experience and deep understanding of the Chicago market made him the ideal choice for this position," said WFLD general manager Michael Renda. Woolman becomes the latest of a number of former WBBM news talent and executives to follow Fowler to WFLD. Former WBBM political reporter Mike Flannery also just announced he would jump from WBBM to WFLD, possibly as early as June 1.

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About the blogger

Lewis Lazare has written the Media Mix column for the Chicago Sun-Times for the past seven and a half years.

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