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

August 2010 Archives

Dick Tracy, Chicago-based Weigel Broadcasting's director of content, has left the company, and his position has been eliminated. "It was not a good fit," said Molly Kelly, station manager at Weigel Broadcasting. "He (Tracy) couldn't adapt his talents to the demands of TV," added Kelly.

Tracy was named to the Wiegel post just over a year ago. He was responsible for developing new content and expanding the entertainment and local programming on WCIU-Channel 26 and other Weigel properties.

Kelly said two people will take over the work previously handled by Tracy. Patrick Baldwin is director of news content, and David Boul becomes director of talk show content.

At the time of Tracy's appointment, Weigel executive vice-president Neal Sabin pointed out that Tracy wasn't from the broadcast industry, but was nonetheless familiar with developing ideas and serving them up in fresh and interesting ways. Prior to joining Weigel Broadcasting, Tracy spent 11 years at DDB/Chicago, where he was a creative director. In 2007, Tracy formed DDB's first all-digital unit.

In his early months at Weigel, Tracy was involved in the start-up of WCIU's unconventional morning show "You & Me This Morning" hosted by local radio and television personality Jeanne Sparrow. Segments of the morning show are interspersed with WCIU's regular morning programming.

Car maker Toyota, which signed on as a sponsoring partner of the Chicago Bears in 2009, is now the official car of the Chicago Bears. "The fact that they've chosen to further invest in the Bears after our first-ever partnership in 2009 validates the value of our brand and the importance Toyota places on our expansive fan base," said Chris Hibbs, senior director of sales and marketing for the Bears.

Toyota will be the headline sponsor of the team's official post-game show "Bears Gamenight Live" on Fox-owned WFLD-Channel 32. The car company also will be an associate partner of "Back to Football Week," a citywide celebration prior to the start of the Bears' regular season.

In addition Toyota will sponsor the "Fan of the Week" application on Facebook and will have a presence on signage throughout Soldier Field during Bears games. Toyota advertising will appear in the Bears' official game magazine and on Bears-related television and radio programming.

Toyota recently became a focus of attention at Wrigley Field when it erected a sign there that many believe detracted from the ballpark's special ambience.

So after a month of waiting, the Illinois Lottery -- so eager to run a transparent bidding process for its private management contract -- has finally come clean on one matter anyway. As we have been stating for the past month, there are indeed only two finalists for the private management contract: the Northstar Lottery Group whose principals include Gtech, Scientific Games and Energy BBDO/Chicago; and the Camelot Group, which operates the United Kingdom Lottery.

Representatives from the two entities left in the running are scheduled to appear at a public hearing in the James R. Thompson State of Illinois Building, Room 9-040 on the 9th floor, on Wednesday morning, Sept. 8 at 9 a.m. The two groups will answer questions from the public about what the they intend to do. Of course, the hearing is likely to be a fairly pointless exercise since the Lottery has been exceedingly tight-lipped to date about the so-called transparent bid process or what they want from a new private manager of the Lottery.

Obviously, Camelot opted not to drop out of the competition last week, as some sources had suspected it might. Camelot's decision to stay in, we're told, may have had a lot to do with the Lottery's decision at the last minute to make a lot more information available to Camelot that presumably could help it tailor its bid to the state's and the Lottery's satisfaction.

At the very least, the Lottery's generosity of information made it seem every effort was being made to sustain the appearance that Camelot is a real and viable contender for the Illinois Lottery private management contract. Intralot, you may recall, had no such luck. It was immediately dropped from contention after it came before the Lottery evaluation committee in early August. Another contender, Your Lottery Group, opted not to submit a bid at the last minute because it found the terms in an early version of the private management agreement to be excessively and unrealistically onerous.

So as most observers have suspected for weeks, all fingers look to be pointing toward Northstar Lottery Group as the victor in the private management contract bid process. If that is what indeed comes to pass, it would leave entities that already comprise a major Illinois Lottery vendor group with a contract to manage themselves. An interesting arrangement, to say the least.

At a press conference unrelated to the Lottery in early August, Gov. Pat Quinn said he would give this whole Lottery private management bid process a close look when it reached his desk in September. Quinn is in a tough race for re-election. He owes it to himself and the people of Illinois to indeed take a close look at what is coming down here. Plenty of people who have been watching closely for the past several weeks think there is plenty of reason to question the way this bid process has gone -- and how it looks to be coming to a conclusion.

Quinn is supposed to make a decision on or before Sept. 15. Two weeks to go, and counting.

Losers in the eight major acting categories at the 62nd annual Primetime Emmy Awards Sunday night aren't being left totally empty-handed. Consolation swag bags went out today to all of them. The bags were filled with lots of gift certificates and goodies ranging from a year's supply of Altoids from Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. to chocolates and luggage. The distinction for lowest-priced gift in the bag, however, goes to west suburban-based Pre-Fenz Botanicals, which made available a bottle of its $6.99-priced 24-hour hand sanitizer. It's green, non-toxic and alcohol-free, just for the record.

Prince Sports Inc., a New Jersey-based manufacturer of tennis equipment, has selected Schafer Condon Carter/Chicago as its new consumer branding agency after an agency review. Initial work will focus on creating strong consumer connection to Prince's EX03 racquet and the rest of the performance racquet line. SCC will handle advertising, digital, retail marketing and dealer communications.

"Schafer Condon Carter showed themselves to be the most strategic thinker with creative expertise and integrated capabilities best suited for our business," said Zach Perles, vice president of global communications for Prince Sports Inc.

Wasa 1.pngWasa snack crisps and its ad agency Euro RSCG/Chicago are reaching out to consumers to develop their own "snackspirations." Not the most inspired of neologisms, but you get the idea. Wasa and Euro RSCG have launched a Facebook community that includes an interactive tool that enables visitors to create their own snacks recipes using Wasa crisps and other ingredients. Visitors can then post their recipes for others to sample. Those who post recipes can be entered in a giveaway for a spa vacation. The page also has a coupon, natch, to stimulate sampling of Wasa. "Facebook was the optimal channel to create a community around Wasa," said Euro RSCG group account director Laurie Nations.

In a first for the Writers Guild of America East, web news writer/producers at WBBM-Channel 2 have voted unanimously to be represented by the Writers Guild East. These are the first news writer/producers working exclusively on web content to join the WGAE, the union that has long represented CBS News employees writing for television and radio. "This victory for web writers demonstrates that even in the digital age writers want the strength union representation provides," said WGAE executive director Lowell Peterson. "We voted to join the Guild because we want the stability and voice on the job that a union provides," added WBBM web writer Michael Ramsey. The Writers Guild of America East represents writers in motion pictures, television, cable, digital media and broadcast news.

Mike Hegedus, one of two co-hosts who stuck it out to the end on WBBM-Channel 2's unconventional "Monsters & Money In the Morning" early morning show, brought down the curtain on the show's seven-month run Friday with an impassioned, very unconventional commentary.

Rather than mouthing the typical "thank you's" and other innocuous pleasantries, Hegedus used the show's final moments to suggest he didn't necessarily agree with the decision to pull the plug on the show. Hegedus said "Monsters & Money" was dying for all the wrong reasons.

From there Hegedus went on to mourn the decline of creativity in the TV business. His candid observations caused Hegedus to noticeably choke up at one point, but he regained his composure as he ended with a plea for the courage to be different.

Though Hegedus' remarks seemed to come down hard on WBBM management for cancelling "Monsters & Money" before it had been given sufficient time to prove its viability, the powers-that-be at the station nonetheless allowed Hegedus to speak his mind. "Monsters & Money" co-host and Sun-Times financial columnist Terry Savage was seated next to Hegedus during his brief speech, and she reached over to shake his hand and commend him as soon as he was finished.

Meanwhile, WBBM management has decided it will call its new, more traditional early morning show that debuts Monday "The CBS2 Morning News at 4:30." That will change to "The CBS2 Morning News at 5" at 5 a.m. and again at the start of the 6 a.m. hour.

Allstate Insurance, which has been working to boost its profile in the sports sponsorship arena in recent years, has signed on as the official sponsor of the college football game between the Northwestern Wildcats and Illinois's Fighting Illini, which will be played on November 20, 2010 at Wrigley Field, longtime home of the Chicago Cubs. The event will mark the first time in more than 87 years that the two teams have faced off at Wrigley Field, and the first time in nearly 40 years that a football game has been played at Wrigley.

Allstate has partnered with Northwestern University through its "Good Hands" field goat net program for five years and contributed $28,500 to the university's general scholarship fund.

Jordan Photo.jpgRyan Gorman, who goes by the name "Jordan" on air, is the new afternoon drive host on Clear Channel Radio Chicago's Top 40 WKSC-FM (103.5), effective Oct. 4. Gorman's show will air weekdays from 4 to 8 p.m. He replaces Ty Bentli, who is transferring to Clear Channel's KBIG-FM in Los Angeles. "Jordan is a tremendous talent and will be a perfect enhancement to 103.5 KISS-FM's stellar on-air team," said Rick Vaughn, WKSC program director. Gorman said of his new role at WKSC: "Chitown is going to be insane. Special thanks to my Jacksonville radio family for four great years."

Jordan most recently was afternoon host and executive producer at WFKS-FM in Jacksonville, Fla. He has also worked at radio stations in Tampa, Fla.; Hartford, Conn., and New Haven, Conn.

MICHAEL Fassnacht Photo.jpgDraftFCB/Chicago has announced a big shake-up in management of its Chicago office and North American operations. Effectively immediately, Michael Fassnacht has been named president of the Chicago shop and a staff of around 1,200 people. He was most recently the agency's worldwide chief strategy officer.

Buried far beneath the news of Fassnacht's new role in the DraftFCB announcement Thursday was the more interesting and potentially disturbing development of the day. Mark Modesto, who most recently was president of DraftFCB North America, has left the agency and his post has been eliminated effective immediately. Prior to getting the North America title last October, Modesto had been president of DraftFCB/Chicago, the job Fassnacht is now taking. The president's post in Chicago had been vacant since Modesto was promoted last fall.

At least one source familiar with developments said Modesto was escorted from the DraftFCB office last night, prior to today's developments. It appears Modesto's abrupt exit from the agency could be related to DraftFCB's SC Johnson account -- a large and lucrative chunk of business that Modesto oversaw in North America. Now Mark Pacchini, who had been handling the SC Johnson business overseas for the last four years and who had worked closely with Modesto in the past, will oversee the SC Johnson account globally.

It could not be immediately determined what, if any issues related to the handling of the SC Johnson account may have precipitated Modesto's sudden exit, but DraftFCB was apparently forced to act urgently. A DraftFCB spokesman said he could not comment on what issues, if any, may have caused Modesto's abrupt exit.

Perhaps a clue to what came down with Modesto is tied to Bob Mallers, DraftFCB/Chicago's chief financial officer, who exited the agency Wednesday along with Modesto. A DraftFCB spokesman said news of Mallers' dismissal was not included in the announcement Thursday because journalists typically aren't interested in such positions. Neil Miller, DraftFCB's corporate chief financial officer, will take over for Mallers on an interim basis.

This is not DraftFCB's first brush with major management problems in recent years. Several years ago as it was yanking its $600 million ad account out of DraftFCB/Chicago soon after the agency won it, Walmart alleged that DraftFCB had used what it considered unacceptable tactics to try and lure the discount retailer's ad account to the agency.

In conjunction with the National Hockey League broadcast rightsholders NBC and the Versus Channel, the NHL announced Wednesday that at least 11 Chicago Blackhawks games will be broadcast on national television during the 2010-11 season.

In addition, Chicago will have the chance to make up to four more appearances on NBC's "Game of the Week" in the second half of the season. The first 11 scheduled appearances on national television for the Blackhawks are on Versus, beginning when the team opens it defense of the 2010 Stanley Cup championship against the Colorado Avalanche on Oct. 7.

For the third consecutive season, the remaining Blackhawks games -- home and away -- will be televised in HD on Comcast SportsNet Chicago and WGN-Channel 9, the team's official television partners. Pat Foley and Eddie Olczyk will front the TV broadcasts. In addition every game of the 2010-11 season can be heard on WGN-AM (720), with John Wiedeman and Troy Murray call the action. The complete Blackhawks schedule will be released at a later date, team executives said.

David Friedman is joining Sears Holdings as senior vice-president, marketing, effective Sept. 13. Friedman will be responsible for the oversight and leadership of Sears Holdings' marketing efforts, which include advertising for both Sears and Kmart. Friedman replaces Richard Gerstein.

Friedman most recently served as president, Americas, for Razorfish, an interactive marketing and technology company. "David is a great addition to our executive team," said Sears Holdings interim CEO and president Bruce Johnson. "He brings to our company a proven track record of assisting numerous retail and consumer organizations in building strong brands through focused digital, online and in-store customer experiences," added Johnson. Friedman earned a MBA from the University of Chicago and a bachelor's degree from Cornell University.

Head & Shoulders shampoo wants to know whether you like former Chicago Bears quarter Jim McMahon's so-called "pretty-boy" hair style. McMahon's hairdo is going up against the curly locks of Mike Golic, former defensive tackle for several NFL teams, including the Miami Dolphins and the Houston Oilers. McMahon and Golic are pitted against each other in this week's round of a new contest to determine the most iconic NFL hairstyle of all time.

Visitors to the website can cast their vote for which of the two hairstyles they favor. Altogether, eight former NFL players are part of the competition. The winner in each of the next three weeks will advance. In October, the last former NFL player hairdo left standing will match up against the mane of Pittsburgh Steelers player and Head & Shoulders spokesman Troy Polamalu to determine which player has the most iconic NFL hair style.

The topic of discussion at the Publicity Club of Chicago's September luncheon will be: "Is Morning the New Prime Time for Chicago TV News?" The panel for the discussion will include WGN-Channel 9 executive producer Sandy Pudar, WLS-Channel 7 executive producer Doug Whitemire and WFLD-Channel 32 executive producer Todd Woolman. The panel will discuss the do's and don'ts for PR professionals as they go about pitching stories to the local early morning shows.

The luncheon will be held on Sept. 15 at Maggiano's Restaurant banquet room at 516 N. Clark St. from 11:30 to 1:30 p.m.

It's reunion time. Sports talk WSCR-AM (670) personalities Dan McNeil and Terry Boers will reunite for one show only on the Score on Aug. 27, that will be broadcast from Bar Louis in Naperville from 1 to 6 p.m. McNeil and Boers previously co-hosted a WSCR show for 7 1/2 years that was called "The Heavy Fuel Crew." On the day of the reunion, Matt Spiegel and Dan Bernstein will fill in for Danny Mac on his regular 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. radio show.

Despite heroic efforts to suggest otherwise, Euro RSCG/Chicago's general market advertising unit unfortunately continues to look as if it is veering once again toward a corpse-like state, a situation we hoped not to see happen again. The agency's latest blow is the loss of the Fleet Laboratories account, which is moving to the Richards Group/Dallas in September. Fleet manufactures feminine hygiene and digestive care products.

Euro RSCG issued a statement Tuesday that said in part: "Following 14 successful years working with Fleet, we have agreed to end our relationship in September. We wish Fleet the best as they evolve their business to meet the changing demands of today's consumer."

The Fleet loss comes on the heels of other big account losses at Euro RSCG/Chicago, including Barilla pasta and Valspar paints. An agency spokesman said Euro has picked up some new business, however, including the ailing Blockbuster video store chain, Sauza tequila and two accounts the agency said it is not yet at liberty to name. Euro RSCG co-chief creative officer Blake Ebel departed the shop several weeks ago.

Could the Camelot Group be ready to split? Sources are reporting that Camelot is indeed thinking seriously about dropping out of the bidding for the private management contract to run the Illinois Lottery. As previously reported, Camelot in recent days had grown increasingly concerned about its status in the bid process and about details contained in the private management agreement (PMA) that spells out the parameters under which the Illinois Lottery private manager must operate. Camelot could make a decision on what it intends to do within the next 24 to 48 hours, a source said.

Some observers think the Northstar Lottery Group, believed to be the only other bidder left in the running for the private management contract, has the inside track on that management contract because the principals that comprise Northstar are closely tied to the Lottery and its current management. Northstar principals include Gtech, Scientific Games and Energy BBDO/Chicago, which respectively provide technology, the games themselves and the advertising to the Lottery.

Should Camelot take the bold step of exiting the bidding, it could upend the entire process. Or perhaps not. The rules for the bid process reportedly state that there must be at least two bidders in contention for the private management contract. But at least one source said Illinois Lottery officials had possibly suggested to Camelot execs that a decision by the United Kingdom firm to drop out might not necessarily prevent the bid process from going forward, in which case Northstar most likely would be awarded the contract. A public hearing on the bid is scheduled for Sept. 7. Gov Pat Quinn is supposed to select a private manager for the Illinois Lottery on or before Sept. 15.

Alan VanderMolen, president of Edelman Asia-Pacific since 2002, has been appointed to the newly-created role of president and CEO of Edelman's global practices and diversified insights businesses. David Brain will transition from his role as president and CEO of Edelman Europe, Middle East and Africa to take over leadership of Edelman Asia-Pacific Both roles take effect Jan. 1, 2011.

VanderMolen will lead the development of Edelman's global practices (consumer, corporate, health, public affairs, crisis, technology, sustainability and employee engagement), specialty research firm (StrategyOne) and consulting businesses (including First & 42nd) . Currently based in Hong Kong, VanderMolen will relocated to Chicago and continue to report to Richard Edelman.

Sargento Foods, a cheesemaker for more than 50 years, has selected GolinHarris/Chicago as its public relations agency of record. The firm will handle Sargento's PR efforts in four principal areas: consumer marketing, corporate communications, social media and public affairs. The account will be led by GolinHarris senior vice-president Amy Kennedy. Barbara Gannon, Sargento's vice president of corporate communications and government relations, said Golin is "large enough to provide insight and experience in many public relations specialty areas, while offering the personal attention and high-level counsel we need and expect from our agency partners." Founded in 1953, Sargento is owned and operated by the Gentine family and has net sales of more than $900 million.

Another week is drawing to a close in the drama-filled Illinois Lottery private management contract bidding process. Everyone in the Illinois Lottery and Gov. Pat Quinn's office is doing their best to make sure this whole process remains as far under the radar as possible. The less visible and transparent the whole process is, of course, the less chance there is that somebody will let something slip that wasn't supposed to slip. And nobody wants that kind of mess before Gov. Pat Quinn must decide on Sept. 15 what entity will get the private management contract.

In any event, as we move into the weekend, sources report that the United Kingdom-based Camelot Group, believed to be one of only two bidders left in the running for the Illinois Lottery private management contract, may finally be wising up to the fact its chances of getting the contract are next to nil -- at least as things now stand. At least one source told us that Camelot even went so far as to suggest to Illinois Lottery officials that it might seriously consider dropping out of the bidding process if some adjustments weren't immediately made in the private management agreement (PMA) that sets out the parameters under which the private manager will operate the Illinois Lottery.

As astounding as it would be if true, that source also said Lottery officials subsequently told Camelot that the bidding process was far enough along that the contract could still legitimately be awarded to the Northstar Lottery Group (the only other entity believed to still be in the running for the contract) whether or not Camelot stays in the game. Some believe the Lottery's hardball response could have been an attempt to call Camelot's bluff.

Still that response from Lottery officials, if accurate, is interesting because the rules for the bidding process, we're told, specifically require there to be a minimum of two contending bidders. Whatever Lottery representatives may or may not have told Camelot, the ball is definitely in Camelot's court. Camelot must now decide whether it's in the group's best interests to see this bid process through to its -- quite possibly-- predetermined end.

Even as Camelot appeared to be mulling its options in regards to the Illinois Lottery, the London newspaper the Daily Mail treated its readers on Thursday to a lengthy story about the company and its fearless and steely leader Dianne Thompson, who is all of five feet tall. Among other things, Thompson told Daily Mail reporter Rupert Steiner that winning the Illinois Lottery private management contract could be the first of six lottery management contracts beyond the United Kingdom that Camelot hopes to pick up within the next 10 years. If only it were that easy.

Meanwhile, the Freedom of Information Act request submitted by Intralot (dropped from contention for the private management contract) has been denied. But sources say Intralot has lodged a protest. No indication yet whether that will do much good. Intralot had sought information about how it was scored by the evaluation committee that interviewed bidders for the Illinois private management contract during the first week of August.

George Ofman has joined news/talk WBBM-AM (780) as a sports reporter and anchor. Ofman most recently had been doing fill-in sports reporting on news/talk WGN-AM (720). He also previously worked for sports talk WSCR-AM (670). Ofman replaces Mark Grote who is joining WSCR to do sports updates on the "Mully and Hanley Show."

It's official. Downtown Partners/Chicago is the agency of record for Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan's re-election campaign. This will mark the first stab at political campaign advertising for the folks at Downtown Partners, who always welcome a new challenge.

Strategizing for Madigan's ad campaign is expected to begin almost immediately, but the first advertising most likely won't hit until October. Though some in Democratic political circles wanted Madigan to consider a run for governor, she opted to focus on re-election as attorney general. Observers say she may have a better -- or at least easier -- shot at the governor's job after all of the negative fallout from the Rod Blagojevich trial finally is over. Which, considering where things stand now, could be quite a long time from now.

The Rod Blagojevich trial verdict on Tuesday drew larger than usual numbers of viewers to public television station WTTW-Channel 11's nightly news digest "Chicago Tonight." The show averaged a 3.0 rating for the 7 p.m. hour on Tuesday, peaking at a 3.3 rating. Those were show's highest numbers since November, 2005.

A WTTW spokeswoman said "Chicago Tonight" numbers have been better than usual all summer, attributable at least in part to the show's ongoing coverage of the Blagojevich trial, the spokeswoman asserted. On Wednesday night, "Chicago Tonight" talked to two members of the Blagojevich jury, including jury foreman James Matsumoto (a former WTTW employee). Tonight, "Chicago Tonight" will interview Rod Blagojevich's brother and co-defendant Robert Blagojevich.

Two months into his tenure at DDB/Chicago, chief creative officer Ewan Paterson is starting to wield the axe in the creative department. Among those believed to have been on the wrong end of that blunt axe this week, sources say, are creative directors Sally Weingartner, John Siebert and Grant Priehs. All held senior positions within a DDB creative unit that had been leaderless for more than two years prior to Paterson's arrival in late June. Siebert had, for a while, been closely attached to the agency's State Farm Insurance business, much of which is now in the hands of DraftFCB/Chicago.

Little has been heard from Paterson since he walked into DDB/Chicago, but sources say one curious priority on his agenda, apparently, is a facelift of the digs DDB now occupies at the Aon Center. Paterson, we're told, wants a hipper vibe than DDB's somewhat nondescript offices currently exude. Snazzier offices, while nice to work in, certainly won't do much to ignite the creative spark that has been too much absent from DDB in recent years. That will have to come -- if it comes at all -- from the creatives Paterson recruits to replace the axed.

One can only imagine what must be going through Paterson's mind as he watches from afar the meltdown in DDB's New York office, where former BBDO/New York hotshot creative Eric Silver was expected to do big things as chief creative officer. He did nothing really in his brief tenure in the job. Now he has been kicked upstairs to a business development post that is obviously a waiting room for him until he can find something else to do elsewhere.

Rumor has it Silver is one of three finalists for the top creative job at Euro RSCG/New York. It may not be an ideal fit for him, but at least it could take him out of the purgatory where he now finds himself. A Euro RSCG spokesman said a decision could come in September.

Mark Grote joining WSCR-AM

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Mark Grote is joining CBS Radio Chicago's sports talk WSCR-AM (670) full time, effective Aug. 30. Grote had been doing sports updates for the station on a part-time basis for a couple of years. He now will do Scoreboard updates full-time on "The Mully and Hanley Show" and host on weekends. Grote previously was with Shadow Traffic doing reports for news/talk WBBM-AM (780).

Another piece of CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2's new early morning show has fallen into place. Chicago native Susan Carlson has been tapped to co-anchor the new telecast along with Steve Bartelstein, another native Chicagoan who is relocating from New York to his hometown to co-anchor the new show. Carlson is no stranger to the early morning time slot. She was the news reporter for WBBM's "Monsters & Money in the Morning" early morning show that will end on Aug. 27.

Though WBBM's new early morning show is still in development, it reportedly will have a more traditional format than did "Monsters & Money," a roundtable show with talk about finance, sports and other news of the day. The ratings for "Monsters & Money" were terrible, and WBBM management pulled the plug on the show after only seven months. The new early morning show, which will air starting at 4:30 a.m. on weekdays, launches Aug. 30.

That didn't take long. Familiar Chicago sports broadcaster Mike North is joining Fox Sports Radio, the national radio network that is part of Fox Sports. A Fox Sports Radio spokeswoman said the details of North's new job are still being worked out, but he will have his own program, she said. North will be based in Chicago. More details on North's new role with the radio network are expected within two or three weeks, said the spokeswoman. Fox Sports Radio does not have a radio outlet in Chicago, but North's show will be available on XM Satellite Radio.

News of North's new gig comes just days after the familiar sports broadcaster departed WBBM-Channel 2's "Monsters & Money In the Morning," the unconventional early morning show that is scheduled to end on Aug. 27. "Monsters" lasted just seven months. North and another co-host Dan Jiggetts both left the show last week to take two weeks of vacation time due them.

"I've always wanted to broadcast on a national network, so this is a dream come true," said North of his new job. "To be heard in over 300 markets, as well as on XM Satellite Radio, is huge," added North. Don Martin, Fox Sports Radio Network vice-president and general manager, said of North's new job with the network: "We couldn't be happier to have Mike join the Fox Sports radio family. His credentials in sports talk radio speak for themselves."

North got his big break in Chicago broadcasting when he and Dan Jiggetts hosted a show on sports talk WSCR-AM (670). North and Jiggetts write a column for the Sun-Times.

There have been twists and turns along the way, but broadcast sources say CBS Radio Chicago's sports/talk WSCR-AM (670) is close to signing a new five-year contract to remain the exclusive radio home of the Chicago White Sox. A deal could be announced within a week.

Negotiations were protracted, in part because of rumored discussions among the White Sox and the team's owner Jerry Reinsdorf and Emmis Communications about the possibility of converting an Emmis radio property in Chicago to an FM sports outlet and putting the White Sox on that. But those talks, sources say, have collapsed, and the White Sox are now focused on getting a deal done with WSCR.

Meanwhile, it can't be ruled out that CBS Radio Chicago still could opt to simulcast WSCR on adult contemporary WCFS-FM (105.9) if efforts to boost ratings at WCFS are unsuccessful.

So the long slog to decision day on Sept 15 continues. That is when Gov. Pat Quinn will decide which bidder becomes the private manager of the Illinois Lottery. That's still the game plan as of now.

As reported earlier, the flow of information from the both the Illinois Lottery and Quinn's office has ground to a halt in recent days. If one is looking for information about the bid process, it has to come from sources other than the mouths of the principal horses running this increasingly non-transparent bid process and their representatives.

Sources have told us no one connected to any entity bidding for the management contract can even mention that connection or anything about the bid process to anyone working for the Illinois Lottery, as if this somehow helps keep the process untainted.

But experts who have had time to study the private management agreement (PMA) released last Friday worry it could represent a real problem for the state and the people of Illinois who foot the bills and benefit from the revenue the Lottery generates. The PMA spells out out the ground rules and goals for the new Illinois Lottery management entity.

As one source who has carefully read through the PMA put it: "If left unchallenged, this will be by far the most lucrative lottery contract in modern lottery history. The state of Illinois is getting ready to be taken for a ride not seen since the Pentagon paid $100.00 for an ashtray."

Words like "cartel" are also being bandied about now. Some observers remain convinced the Northstar Lottery Group, one of two bidders believed to be left in the running for the private management contract, is destined to become both the Illinois Lottery management firm and a principal supplier of goods and services. Gtech and Scientific Games, two of the partners in Northstar, already supply technology and games to the Illinois Lottery.

Is Gov. Quinn worried about what his minions at the Illinois Lottery are cooking up for him to review before he makes his decision about an Illinois Lottery manager on Sept. 15? Hard to say, as the governor's spokeswoman dealing with all matters related to the Lottery isn't talking much herself.

Meanwhile, to no one's surprise at Intralot, dumped from the competition more than a week ago, there has been no response yet to its Freedom of Information Act request. Intralot wants information about how the group was scored during the recent evaluation committee hearings that helped determine which bidders would move forward in the private management bid process. The deadline for a response to Intralot's request is believed to be Wednesday.

YourGEDFrame5__110420.jpgOptimus/Chicago and DDB/Chicago have joined forces to create a series of videos and a TV spot encouraging people who didn't graduate from high school to take the necessary steps to get a GED diploma -- a document that certifies the holder has attained high school level skills and knowledge. The introductory video, posted at, is fairly basic. It shows several young people who have made the decision to get their GED. We hear a little about what forced them to drop out of school and what happened to them subsequently.

A more interesting execution is the 60-second TV spot, also posted on the site. It does a masterful job of first capturing the dejection and isolation of people whose lives appear to have reached a dead end. Then, ever so slowly, we see them start to break down the walls -- literally and figuratively -- that have held them back because they lacked a high school diploma. That wonderfully liberating sense of freedom that comes from bursting through barriers is fully realized in this quiet, but powerful TV execution that also directs viewers to the previously-mentioned website.

This ad campaign was funded by the Dollar General Literary Foundation and the Ad Council.

Management at Fox-owned WFLD-Channel 32 has renewed the contracts of two on-air talents: "Good Day, Chicago" traffic reporter Sondra Solarte and Dane Placko, the investigative reporter on the flagship 9 p.m. newscast. This represents a welcome bit of continuity at a station where a number of reporters and anchors have exited in recent months as WFLD overhauls both its morning and late evening newscasts and looks to boost the ratings for both.

Loyalty3.jpgThis will resonate. Of that we have no doubt. We're talking about a new ad campaign from the Martin Agency in Richmond, Va., for Riverwoods, IL.-based Discover Card that breaks today. Three new TV spots all focus on customer service -- or, more specifically, the lack thereof -- at some financial institutions.

The new Discover spots make their point via a customer service agent called Peggy, who is actually a he. Peggy is seen in each spot attempting to deal with a customer who has called a financial institution named USA Prime Credit. In each instance, the interaction with Peggy leads to a situation that is both funny and familiar -- at least to anyone who has struggled to get through to -- and then deal with -- a banking representative.

It's a tribute to Martin's skills that the shop has managed to make us laugh at what is, in fact, a hugely frustrating experience for so many, namely the decline of customer service. Discover Card apparently promises a real person will answer customer calls within 60 seconds. That's a promise well worth promoting in Discover's marketing initiatives. We'll have more on the spots at a later date.

Energy BBDO/Chicago has picked up the Chicago-based Turtle Wax account after a formal review that is believed to have also included Schafer Condon Carter/Chicago. An Energy BBDO spokeswoman said the new piece of business would not immediately involve the development of an ad campaign. Instead, the agency will focus on strategic issues related to how best to position and reinvigorate the brand going forward. A new ad campaign is, however, expected at a later date. Turtle Wax had not recently had an agency of record, but worked with various shops on a project basis.

Commenting on the appointment of Energy BBDO, Turtle Wax senior vice-president Tom Healy said: "Their capabilities and philosophy are well-aligned with our goals, and we're confident that this is the beginning of a valuable, productive relationship."

Turtle Wax is a privately-held, family-owned company founded more than 60 years ago in Chicago. Energy BBDO will begin work on the account immediately.

For a bid process to select a private manager for the Illinois Lottery that is supposed to be completely transparent, the state is doing a remarkably good job of making it seem anything but. At this juncture in the process, spokespersons for both the Lottery and Gov. Pat Quinn have stopped talking, a sure sign that this is a process about which they have no interest in encouraging dissemination of information. Or transparency.

In any event, we learned today that a final (or near final) version of the private management agreement (PMA) has just been released to interested bidders. That document sets out guidelines under which the new Lottery manager must operate. Sources who have seen the significantly-revised document told us it differs in many ways from a version of the document that was circulating prior to the July 30 deadline for submitting bids for the Lottery private management contract.

On another front, we are told that Intralot, a bidder who was believed to have been dropped from contention on Monday, asked the Lottery for information on how the group and its bid were scored during the evaluation process last week. Not surprisingly, per sources, the Lottery was not forthcoming with information about the scoring. Now Intralot is said to be using the Freedom of Information Act to try and pry the information from state officials. But Intralot executives are said to be somewhat pessimistic about their chances of success.

Meanwhile, all eyes remain focused on Camelot Group, which is believed to be one of only two contenders left in the running for the Illinois Lottery private management contract. Lottery executives did an about-face earlier this week and decided they would not make public the names of finalists for the management contract until at least Aug. 30. The names of bidders were to have been revealed on Aug. 12.

The other contender is believed to be the recently-formed Northstar Lottery Group, comprised of several entities that are already Illinois Lottery vendors, including Gtech, Scientific Games and ad agency Energy BBDO/Chicago. Should Camelot decide to drop out because of what it sees in the revised PMA (which is said to include a $100 million bond stipulation among other goodies), the entire bid process could be upended.

The new early morning news show under development at WBBM-Channel 2 will feature Megan Glaros as meteorologist. The Dyer, Ind. native comes to WBBM directly from WCBS-TV in New York, where she was the station's weekend meteorologist and entertainment reporter. Glaros also may do some entertainment reporting for WBBM's early morning show.

At WCBS, Glaros also worked with Steve Bartelstein, who is returning to his native Chicago from New York to anchor WBBM's new early morning news show that will debut Aug. 30. Bartelstein resigned from WCBS in early 2009.

Sources said Glaros was interested in the WBBM early morning news weather job because she wanted to return to the Chicago area. Glaros graduated from Indiana University, where she studied journalism and atmospheric sciences.

WBBM's new early morning show replaces "Monsters & Money in the Morning," which suffered from low ratings and lasted only seven months. The "Monsters" round-table show featured talk about finance, sports and other news of the day and had four co-hosts: Sun-Times financial columnist Terry Savage, Mike Hegedus, Dan Jiggetts and Mike North.

We heard today from Steve Bartelstein, the 46-year-old TV anchor who is set to front CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2's new, yet-to-be-titled early morning newscast that will debut Aug. 30. The native Chicagoan told us "it's great to be home, and with all my family still here (in Chicago), it means a lot more dinners at mom's house." Until he resigned from CBS' flagship WCBS-TV in New York early last year, Bartelstein had worked in the New York market in recent years.

The new job at WBBM will mark his debut as a TV news man in his hometown. WBBM is now counting on Bartelstein to help make up the ground the station lost in the ratings during the seven-month run of "Monsters & Money in the Morning," a round-table show with talk about sports, finance and other news of the day. "Monsters" never clicked with audiences, and its ratings were about half of the small number WBBM was pulling with the more traditional early news show that "Monsters" replaced.

Tom, Dick & Harry Advertising/Chicago has added three clients to its roster, quite a feat in these tough times. TD&H has been retained as advertising agency of record for Roosevelt University. This comes on the heels of the development and launch of a multi-media campaign to support the announcement and construction of Roosevelt's new 32-story vertical campus in the loop.

The agency also is launching a new branding campaign for Premier Dermatology, Illinois' largest dermatology practice and one of the nation's largest. According to Premier exec Corky Bellile, the new campaign will "focus on helping consumers understand the difference between the so-called med spas and an organization like Premier, which has a practicing staff comprised of board-certified dermatologists." The campaign breaks late summer.

Finally, TD&H has been added to the agency roster of Lincolnshire-based ACCO Brands Corp., a supplier of office products. "We are delighted to be working with an agency with the creative horsepower that TD&H brings to the table," said Katherine Riley, a brand manager at Swingline, a unit of ACCO.

According to Don Brashears, TD&H co-managing partner, the year 2010 is turning into the best year in the agency's eight-year history. The agency is preparing to occupy 5,000 square feet of additional space at its current location in River North.

WBBM-Channel 2 's early morning show "Monsters & Money in the Morning," will end Aug. 27. The station is developing a new, as yet untitled early morning show that will debut Aug. 30. Steve Bartelstein, a Chicagoan who had been working in New York for WABC-TV and then WCBS-TV, will relocate to Chicago to front the new newscast, a WBBM station spokeswoman said. Bartelstein left WCBS in 2009, and had been looking for a new assignment since then. The rest of the early morning team that will work with Bartelstein is still to be determined.

WBBM's new early morning show will be more traditional in format than "Monsters" was, but still different enough to offer an alternative to what is currently available, station sources said. And Channel 2's new early morning show will start at 4:30 a.m., the start time that is now the new norm in the Chicago market for early newscasts.

The fate of the four "Monsters" anchors, including Sun-Times columnist Terry Savage, Mike Hegedus, Dan Jiggetts and Mike North, is unclear, but sources said it's possible one or more of them will continue to work at the station.

"Monsters" lasted just seven months. Its ratings were abysmal, about half of the already minuscule numbers WBBM was pulling in the early morning time slot before "Monsters" debuted.

WBBM general manager Bruno Cohen and news director Jeff Kiernan hoped they could give Chicagoans something different, but most viewers rejected the roundtable format with hosts discussing finance, sports and other news of the day. If nothing else, Cohen and Kiernan may have learned a valuable lesson about how far from the traditional news formats Chicagoans are willing to venture. There were also complaints from viewers that one or more of the hosts were missing from the show too often during its brief run.

Oh how the plot continues to thicken. We're talking, of course, about the private management contract bid process for the Illinois Lottery. For more than a week we had been told the Illinois Lottery would announce the finalists in the bid process on or before Aug. 12. Initially, we had been led to believe the names of all bidders would be released, but then it became evident the most we could hope for would be the names of the finalists in contention for the management contract.

Then late yesterday, we received an email from Lottery spokesman Tracy Owens informing us that the Lottery has now decided not to release the names of any finalists until Aug. 30. That is when the finalists will be published in a formal hearing notice prior to a scheduled Sept. 7 public hearing at which finalists reportedly will present their proposals and answer questions.

Owens did not return repeated calls to explain this sudden about-face. In his email he would only say that "because final bids have not yet been received," the Department of Revenue will not make known the finalists at this time. Why the so-called final bids have suddenly become a point of contention is unclear. But those final bids are apparently connected to the private management agreement (PMA), a document that spells out exactly what the new private manager of the Illinois Lottery will be expected to accomplish. That PMA is believed to still be in a fluid form, but finalists will apparently have to accept the terms of the PMA to proceed in the bid process.

Though the Illinois Lottery refuses to divulge the names of finalists in the bidding process, there are believed to be only two : the Northstar Lottery Group and the Camelot Group. Intralot, sources said, was informed on Monday that it had been dropped from contention. Reached Thursday morning, a Northstar Lottery spokeswoman said she was unaware the Lottery had decided not to release the names of bidders on the previously-announced Aug. 12 date. She would not independently confirm that Northstar is still in the running for the private management contract at the Illinois Lottery. "It's up to the Lottery to make these announcements," said the Northstar spokeswoman.

As the process now stands, Gov. Pat Quinn is scheduled to pick a private manager for the Lottery on Sept. 15. But if one of what are believed to be just two bidders left in the process should drop out between now and then, the entire process could be upended. The rules of the bid process, sources said, require that there be at least two bidders vying for the contract.

CBS Radio Chicago's sports talk WSCR-AM (670) is bringing out some really big guns for its Business of Sports luncheon on Thursday, Sept.16. The panel will include Chicago Cubs owner Tom Rickets, Chicago Bears president Ted Phillips, Chicago Blackhawks president John McDonough, Chicago White Sox chief marketing honcho Brooks Boyer, and Northwestern University athletic director Jim Phillips. WSCR morning drive co-hosts Mike Mulligan and Brian Hanley will co-host the event, along with WBBM-AM (780) Bears radio analyst Tom Thayer. "Anyone interested in finding out more on the business aspect of professional sports would be hard pressed to find such a breadth of information anywhere else," said Rod Zimmerman, CBS Radio Chicago market manager.

Tickets for the event go on sale today, and are available by calling 312-729-3936. The cost is $45 per person which includes a three-course lunch and the panel session.

Daniel Zampillo, an assistant program director at Tribune Co.-owned WGN-AM (720), is leaving the station to become executive producer of sports programming at Sirius/XM satellite radio. Initially, Zampillo will focus on The NFL Talk channel and Mad Dog Radio channel. Zampillo is relocating to New York to take the new job, which he will start on Sept. 10. Zampillo had been with WGN since 2008.

Zampillo is not the first -- and no doubt won't be the last -- staffer to exit WGN as the news/talk radio station works its way through a massive revamp under program director Kevin Metheny, who is seeking to attract more of the younger 25 to 54-year-old demo that advertisers covets.

Zampillo made a veiled reference to his new job with Sirius/XM on a his Facebook page. He has posted an "Empire State of Mind" video with imagery of New York City, along with the comment "My new home . . . I will miss you Chicago, but it's time to go."

It's week two of the big countdown to the selection of a private management firm to run the Illinois Lottery. We were out of the office Monday, but today, we learned that a lot of people behind the scenes at the Lottery have been whittling down the number of contenders for that private management contract to just two finalists. An announcement from the Lottery on that topic could come as early as today.

Though the state has never confirmed the number of parties it received bids from, there were believed to be three bidders -- Northstar Lottery Group, Camelot Group and Intralot.

Sources say Intralot was notified on Monday that it will not be part of the private management bid process. By our count, that leaves Camelot and Northstar in contention. No surprises there. Some observers have long contended this bid process would end up with Northstar the victor because that group is comprised of current vendors with strong ties to the existing Lottery management, including Gtech, Scientific Games and Energy BBDO/Chicago.

Would the Camelot Group, which manages the United Kingdom Lottery, consider dropping out, if it suspects Northstar is assured of victory? No one's counting on that happening at this point. But if Camelot did decide to exit, it could cause the whole private management bid process to collapse, because the rules require there to be at least two finalists going forward.

Right now, many watching the process simply expect Northstar "to walk right through the front door," as one source put it, and get the Lottery private management contract on or before Sept. 15, when Gov. Pat Quinn is expected to make his decision.

Meanwhile, sources say there were nine evaluators --five from the Lottery and four outside executives -- involved in interviewing the three bidders last week. But it's appears that not all nine were present at every meeting held with bidders last week.

We asked an Illinois Lottery spokesman if he could tell us who decided who would sit on the panel of evaluators. He responded with what has become the basic mantra from the Lottery in regards to this whole private management contract bid process: "Disclosing the names of the evaluators, or those who selected them, would substantially deviate from standard operating procedures, undermine the integrity of the process and potentially taint the outcome."

So week one has come and gone since bids were formally submitted for the private management contract to run the Illinois Lottery. It was a busy last few days, as most of the bidders believed to have submitted bids met with the all-important evaluation committee that will make a recommendation to Gov. Pat Quinn as he prepares to decide on or before Sept. 15, which bidder will get the Lottery management contract.

From sources who were present at those evaluation committee meetings, it appears efforts were indeed made to mask which people present were on the evaluation committee and which might have only been interested onlookers. But among those believed to have been involved in the questioning of bidders include acting Illinois Lottery superintendent Jodie Winnett, Lottery product development director Michele Eichorn and one Lisa Crites, who is listed as a "legal assistant" on a Illinois Lottery staff roster. Less clear from sources we talked to after the meetings with the evaluation committee is who from outside the Illinois Lottery is seated on that evaluation committee. The committee is supposed to include executives outside the Illinois Lottery.

Next week promises to be an action-packed one in the bid process as well. A version of the so-called private management agreement (PMA) is expected to be made available to bidders (and possibly the public) as early as Monday. We're told that PMA includes a lot of the nuts-and-bolts details about performance goals the new private management entity will be expected to meet. Whatever is revealed next week, however, may not be the final version of that private management agreement. It could still get further tweaking, we're told.

Then on Thursday, we are supposed to get from the state the official list of finalists in contention for the Illinois Lottery private management contract.

Meanwhile, Illinois Lottery evaluation committee members and other interested parties might want to read through an exhaustive article published today by the Caymanian Compass, a daily newspaper in the Cayman Islands. That is where Gtech, a principal in the Northstar Lottery Group bidding for the Illinois Lottery private management contract, is also apparently trying to land a gaming contract with the Cayman Island government.

At the top of the lengthy article reporter Brent Fuller refers to Gtech operations in Texas, where it has managed the state's gaming business for nearly 20 years. In a 2006 report, Texas state police investigators evidently raised concerns about Gtech's "sometimes questionable actions" taken to pursue and protect the company's business interests. Bruce Turner, Gtech CEO at the time, apparently responded to those concerns by insisting Gtech no longer conducted business in a questionable manner, according to Fuller's report. There's much more in the Fuller article about Gtech's dealings in Texas and other places, including Brazil.

Another day, another round of excitement as the moment nears when Gov. Pat Quinn is expected to name the winning bidder for a private management contract to run the Illinois Lottery. Quinn is expected to announce a winner on or before Sept. 15. Sources report that at least two of the entities that are believed to have submitted bids have already met with the evaluation committee that will make a recommendation to Quinn about who should get the management contract. We can't say for certain how many bidders are involved in the process because the state is keeping that information under wraps until Aug. 12.

But answers to questions about the evaluation committee, its make-up and how it came to be formed remain vague or unknown, despite claims from the state that this closely-watched management contract bid process is being conducted free of taint and in transparent fashion. A lottery spokesman said this morning that he has not seen the names of the persons who comprise the evaluation committee. When asked who decides the make-up of this committee, the spokesman said he did not know, but would get back to us. So far he has not. But he assured us everything was being handled according to state rules and regulations.

Meanwhile, many observers continue to believe the recently-created Northstar Lottery Group has carefully amassed its forces to ensure it can win the management contract for the Lottery. Two of Northstar's principals, Gtech and Scientific Games, already supply the technology and the the games to the Illinois Lottery. A third party called Igor, an Illinois firm that distributes Lottery tickets around the state and services Lottery equipment, is said to be part of the Northstar bid too, according to sources.

Another party believed to be attached to the Northstar bid is well-known Chicago attorney Manny Sanchez, who sources said has done considerable political fundraising. A spokeswoman for the Northstar Lottery Group would not comment on Sanchez or confirm what involvement, if any, he might have with the Northstar bid. Sanchez, founder of the local law firm Sanchez, Daniels & Hoffman, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Don't expect cannons to be shot off or a bunch of iconic critters (hello Tony the Tiger!) to march down Michigan Avenue, but today is the day Leo Burnett celebrates its 75th anniversary.

Apparently the decision was made not to make a super big deal of this anniversary milestone, in part because agency honchos preferred not to draw too much attention to the fact the agency isn't exactly in the best shape it's ever been. New business wins are down markedly, and though there have been a few wonderful pieces of work from the shop in recent months, no one would say the agency is in top creative form across the boards. But there is always hope. And some great work over the past 75 years to build on.

In any event, to mark this 75th birthday, Burnett will get a visit from the Jessie White Tumblers. Staffers will participate in a Chicago creative quiz game show and get guitar, bass and DJ lessons. And even learn how to decorate a cake. Wow! Each employee also will get $75, and they will be encouraged to "engage with" (i.e. give a monetary gift to) several local and client-related charities that will be at the agency today.

Finally, the day will end with a celebration for all staff at the Field Museum, where Burnett Worldwide CEO Tom Bernardin sits on the board. Still to come on Oct. 2 is the debut of "HumanKind," a book that sets forth Burnett's evolved philosophy of advertising. Think acts, not advertising, and you'll have a sense of what it's all about.

So now it's on to the next 75.

scottysmith1.jpgScotty Smith has been named afternoon drive host on CBS Radio Chicago's adult contemporary WCFS-FM (105.9), effective Aug. 16. Current afternoon host Jen Toohey will move to evenings from 8 p.m. to midnight.

When I heard Scotty on the air, he defined our vision for Fresh," said program director Jim Ryan. "He's young, energetic and has great interactive skills with his audience," added Ryan. "To live and work in such a great city like Chicago with a renowned broadcasting history is amazing," said Smith.

Smith most recently hosted mornings at Top 40 KHTT-FM in Tulsa, Okla. He was born in downstate Freeport and is a graduate of Northern Illinois University in DeKalb. He began his radio career in South Bend, Ind., at WNDV-FM, while working as a weekend/fill-in host at Chicago WTMX-FM (101.9) and other stations in the area.

Smith is the first of a couple of talent additions Ryan expects to make at WCFS, where he is working to boost the station's ratings. Ryan is also looking to add another host for morning drive. There was a slight delay in announcing Smith's hiring because Ryan and the new afternoon drive host were mulling whether to use Smith's middle initial in his on-air moniker. The decision was apparently made to drop the middle initial.

Oh how the plot thickens as we get nearer to the moment when Gov. Pat Quinn will select one from what are believed to be several bidders for the private management contract to run the Illinois Lottery. Quinn is supposed to decide on a private manager for the Lottery on or before Sept. 15.

We heard again from Quinn, through a press spokeswoman, in regards to concerns we voiced about the so-called transparent nature of the bid process. Among other things, we wondered why it was necessary to withhold the names of people on the evaluation committee who are supposed to advise Quinn on which of the bidders is best suited to get the private management contract. Last night, Quinn's spokeswoman told us that disclosing the evaluators "would substantially deviate from standard operating procedures, undermine the integrity of the process and potentially taint the outcome."

Taint, of course, is something that Illinois government unfortunately can't seem to fully shake, so we'll leave that out of the discussion for now. But Quinn's latest response begs the question why it is necessary to follow "standard operating procedures" in selecting a private manager for the Lottery. Quinn could just as easily demand a fresh and truly transparent bid process, but, so far, he seems willing to settle for the same old way of doing things in Illinois, even with the Lottery, which is such an important revenue stream for the state.

Meanwhile, new information has surfaced about just how much the Northstar Lottery Group bid does indeed appear to represent a business-as-usual approach to managing the Lottery. Though it was not revealed at the time Northstar Lottery Group announced its formation last week, another partner in the Northstar contingent is believed to be Igor, an Illinois firm that currently distributes Lottery tickets around the state, services Lottery equipment and has longstanding ties to the Illinois Lottery.

In another intriguing twist, just as Gtech and Scientific Games have at the last minute joined forces under the Northstar Lottery Group banner, sources say both Gtech and Scientific Games are also deeply involved in the project to put games of skill (aka poker games) into taverns around the state. That project, as it turns out, is being spearheaded by the Illinois Gaming Board concurrently with the private management bid process for the Lottery, which falls under the jurisdiction of the Illinois Department of Revenue. So, it becomes obvious that if Northstar succeeds in winning the lottery private management contract, Gtech and Scientific Games could have quite a huge stake in the gambling business in Illinois.

As for that evaluation committee that will make a recommendation to Quinn about who gets the private management contract, a Lottery spokesman told us again this morning that the Lottery fully intends to keep under wraps evaluation committee member names. But sources said bidders in contention for the Lottery management contract are expected to meet with that evaluation committee in a matter of days.

It's unclear whether the identities of the evaluation committee members will be made known to representatives of the firms bidding for the Lottery management contract. At least one source said the evaluation committee member names could very well be kept secret during these upcoming meetings. All part of the effort, we suppose, to keep the bid process transparent and untainted.

The plot continues to thicken as we get closer to a decision on a private management firm for the Illinois Lottery. Gov. Pat Quinn is scheduled to select a winning bidder for the management contract on or before Sept. 15.

At a press conference on Sunday called to sign into law a new property tax relief bill for Illinois residents, we asked Quinn about the process that has been set up to decide who will manage the Lottery and whether he was concerned it could lead to a situation where the Lottery continues to be run pretty much as it has been run until now. We pointed out to Quinn that one of the bidders for the management contract is a newly-formed entity called Northstar Lottery Group, comprised of Gtech Corp., Scientific Games Corp. and Energy BBDO/Chicago. Gtech currently provides technology to the Illinois Lottery, while Scientific Games provides the games themselves to the Lottery and Energy BBDO handles Lottery advertising. Quinn ducked the question we asked and said he would give the whole thing a close look when it hit his desk.

We subsequently submitted in writing via Quinn's press office three questions pertaining to the private management contract bid process, including one that pretty much reiterated the question we posed to him at the press conference Sunday. We got back a two-sentence answer that said: "We are confident that this has been and will continue to be an open and transparent process, which has included extensive outreach for potential bidders. The goal is to select a vendor that will help generate more revenue for the state at a time when we desperately need it."

But, in point of fact, not everything has been totally transparent at every step in the bid process so far. For instance, the names of all the entities who submitted bids by the July 30 deadline are being kept under wraps until Aug. 12. Plus, the names of a committee of people who will make a final recommendation to Quinn about what bidder should get the management contract are being withheld until after Quinn makes his decision on or before Sept. 15.

Several days ago, we asked a Lottery spokesman if keeping the committee member names secret was spelled out in the rules of the bid process or if that was an arbitrary decision made by someone at the Lottery or in state government. We have yet to get an answer.

Jessica2.jpgJessica D'Onofrio joins WLS-Channel 7 on Aug. 30, as the station's newest general assignment reporter. Previously, D'Onofrio was a lead reporter for WKMG-TV, the CBS affiliate in Orlando, Fla.

D'Onofrio has a master's degree from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, and got her undergrad degree at the University of Michigan. "Jessica has carved out a reputation as an aggressive reporter who has garnered numerous exclusives," said WLS news director Jennifer Graves, adding "we're delighted this talented journalist is joining the ABC 7 news team and getting the chance to work as a reporter in her hometown."

Viewers wondering whether new "Good Day Chicago" co-host Corey McPherrin may have already bailed from the show can rest a bit easier. That is not the case. McPherrin was not on air on day two of his new job as a co-host of the WFLD-Channel 32 morning show because he was taking a personal day, a station spokeswoman said. McPherrin is expected back on Wednesday. Kori Chambers filled in for McPherrin on Tuesday.

The new pairing of McPherrin with Anna Davlantes on "Good Day Chicago" is part of an effort to boost ratings for the Fox-owned station's morning show. Ratings had been slipping in recent months. Davlantes had been a contributing anchor and reporter on the station's flagship 9 p.m. news since last November, and McPherrin was a longtime sports anchor on the late news.

happyGRAB1.jpgIt may be too early -- or too late -- to hope for a return to a time when jingles were an important part of the advertising business. Almost everyone in advertising has moved on to the digital age and all its distractions -- a digital age that has been unkind to original music and its once-important role in advertising.

It's impossible to pinpoint exactly when jingles fell out of favor, but they did. And the industry and the work it has turned out has -- for years now -- seemed all the more impoverished because of what has happened.

But for an example of how much an original song can add to a commercial, one need only consider the McDonald's "Spaceman Stu" commercial for Happy Meals that we wrote about in today's Sun-Times. Even without the song from Comma Music/Chicago's Pete Schmidt that is such an integral part of the storytelling, "Spaceman Stu" would have been a stunningly-rendered example of the art and craft of advertising.

But with Schmidt's charming composition to carry us along, "Spaceman Stu" is so much more affecting.

Sports anchor Jill Carlson is out at WFLD-Channel 32. Carlson's contract, which runs through the end of August, is not being renewed. Lou Canellis, who had been handling sports for the station's "Good Day Chicago" morning show, is believed to be a prime candidate for the weekday sports anchor job Carlson was to have filled at least temporarily following longtime sports anchor Corey McPherrin's re-assignment.
McPherrin and Anna Davlantes were shifted to "Good Day Chicago" to host the final three hours of that five-hour program. McPherrin and Davlantes started their new jobs today.

A WFLD spokeswoman said various people would anchor sports on the 9 p.m. newscast until a permanent replacement is named. Canellis could be a front runner for the job. Sources say Canellis was the sports anchor for trial runs of the 9 p.m news done last month to give newly-arrived co-anchor Bob Sirott and veteran WFLD anchor Robin Robinson a chance to work together in front of the cameras before their first official newscast together on July 19.

WFLD general manager Michael Renda, newly returned from vacation, said Monday the station is "somewhere in between" starting and finishing the massive overhaul of the station's newscasts that began more than nine months ago. "We're not ready for prime time yet," said Renda, but added that viewers should have a fuller sense of what he and news director Carol Fowler want from the flagship newscast by September. Among other things, the newscast is expected to feature longer news segments and a more conversational tone in the delivery.

Renda said he was pleased with the bump up in ratings for WFLD's flagship 9 p.m newscast in the July Nielsen ratings book. But he cautioned "it's way too early to read too much into it." Still, Renda likes what he's seen of the chemistry between Sirott and Robinson as 9 p.m. co-anchors.

Carlson's departure is but the latest of a seemingly unending series of talent exits and arrivals at WFLD in recent months, and Renda said more changes will be made if he and Fowler think they are warranted. "We're still evaluating everything," Renda said.

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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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