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Lewis Lazare follows Chicago media and marketing news

Recently in WGN-TV Category

Tribune Co.-owned WGN-Channel 9's new Saturday and Sunday morning newscasts will be anchored by Sean Lewis. Meteorologist Mike Hamernik will handle weather segments. The live, one-hour newscasts launch on Oct. 2 and 3 from 6 to 7 a.m.

Lewis joined CLTV in March, 2007, and WGN in June 2008. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin--Milwaukee. Hamernik has been a member of the WGN weather team since 2005. He began his Chicago broadcast career in 2002 at CLTV. Hamernik studied meteorology at the University of Wisconsin--Madison.

Dan Ponce is returning to the Chicago broadcast journalism fold as a general assignment reporter for Tribune Co.-owned WGN-Channel 9, effective Sept. 1.

His return to Chicago effectively ends Ponce's stab at becoming a star in the music industry. Some 18 months ago, Ponce quit his job as a general assignment reporter at top-ranked WLS-Channel 7 to pursue a concert and recording career with an a cappella singing group called "Straight No Chaser" that he founded while in college. The singing group has released three albums and toured the country, including an extended gig this summer at a casino resort in Atlantic City.

In announcing his return to Chicago and the new job at WGN, Ponce said: "I've had a blast performing with 'Straight No Chaser,' but it's time for me to come home and get back to reporting in the country's best news town." WGN news director Greg Caputo called Ponce an "excellent writer and storyteller" with "a unique ability to highlight the people inside the stories."

Dan Ponce's father Phil, is a host of "Chicago Tonight" on public television station WTTW-Channel 11, and his brother Anthony is a reporter at NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5.

Are we ready for some hockey? Only two months to go until the start of pre-season games for the 2010-11 NHL season. And the Chicago Blackhawks announced today that four of the team's seven pre-season games will be televised -- the most in franchise history. In addition, two of the games will air on the team's radio home WGN-AM (720).

Comcast SportsNet Chicago will carry the September 22 game against Tampa Bay and the September 24 contest against the Detroit Red Wings. WGN-Channel 9 will broadcast the team's September 25 matchup against Detroit and the October 3 pre-season finale against the St. Louis Blues. WGN-AM also will broadcast the September 25 and October 3 games.

By now it's no secret TV viewership for the Stanley Cup champion Hawks has increased dramatically in just a year's time. Compared with the 2008-09 regular season, ratings for Hawks games on Comcast SportsNet increased 94 percent last season. CSNC also carried nine of the Stanley Cup playoff games during the first two rounds, reaching approximately 2.4 million Chicago households.

Tribune Co.-owned WGN-Channel 9 will begin its morning news show a half-hour earlier at 4:30 a.m., effective Aug. 16. The added half-hour, anchored by Val Warner, will feature news and traffic updates as well as weather with Paul Konrad. Then, beginning at 5 a.m., co-anchors Larry Potash and Robin Baumgarten will take over the reins, along with the rest of the "WGN Morning News" team that includes Pat Tomasulo on sports, Dean Richards on entertainment and Ana Belaval on the latest happenings around town.

"It's been six years since we've last expanded the 'WGN Morning News'," said WGN news director Greg Caputo, adding "we continue to evolve with our audience and offer viewers a first look at the day's news, weather, traffic and sports." "WGN Morning New" celebrated its 15th anniversary in September of last year.

Nancy Loo is joining Tribune Co.-owned WGN-Channel 9 news department as reporter and fill-in anchor, effective June 1. Loo was previously an anchor/reporter at WFLD-Channel 32, but earlier this spring, WFLD management decided not to renew Loo's contract. She was apparently a victim of the station's ongoing efforts to revamp its news department.

Aside from her skills as a TV reporter and anchor, Loo's facility with social media apparently caught the attention of WGN news director Greg Caputo: "She (Nancy Loo) hosts her own blog on Tribune's 'Chicago Now' blog site. And if you're a Facebook friend or a Twitter follower, you already know her skill in using these new media," said Caputo.

Prior to moving to Chicago in 2001, Loo was a news anchor and reporter for WABC-Channel 7 in New York. In 1993, she was part of a team of journalists who launched New York 1 News.

A WGN-Channel 9 spokeswoman has confirmed that general assignment reporter Antwan Lewis left the station earlier this week. He is moving to New York to take on an as-yet unidentified new broadcast job in that market.

Lewis had been with WGN News for three years, and over the course of his time there he contributed to the station's morning, midday and flagship 9 p.m. newscasts. In January, 2008, he became the lead reporter of WGN's on-going series "The Fugitive Hunters." Prior to joining WGN, Lewis spent four years as a reporter and fill-in anchor at KTVK-TV in Phoenix.

Lewis' duties at Channel 9 will be handled by free-lance reporters currently working for the station. A decision on a permanent replacement is expected within a few weeks.

In conjunction with broadcast partner WGN-Channel 9, the Chicago Blackhawks will air the third episode of Blackhawks TV, an all-access 30-minute television show that includes a variety of segments highlighting Hawks players' personalities off the ice. The show will air on WGN on Sunday, Mar. 28, at 8:30 pm, or immediately following the Blackhawks game against the Columbus Blue Jackets that begins at 6:30 pm.

Among other things, the third installment includes a behind-the-scenes segment with Patrick Kane at the 2010 Winter Olympics and a segment on players at home with their dogs. Located on www.chicagoblackhawks.com, Blackhawks TV has received over five million video views this season. The previous two episodes ran on Dec. 25, on Comcast SportsNet Chicago and on Feb. 14, on WGN-Channel 9. Both of those installments can be seen in their entirety at www.chicagoblackhawks.com.

Big games often generate big ratings when they are televised. Last Saturday's WGN-Channel 9 hockey game telecast featuring the resurgent Chicago Blackhawks and the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins was no exception. It brought the highest ratings for a regularly-scheduled televised Blackhawks game in more than two decades, with a 3.2 rating. The Blackhawks-Penguins game rating peaked at 5.7.

So far this season, the Blackhawks game telecasts are averaging a 1.7 rating in the key 25 to 54 demo, up 89 percent versus a year ago. By the way, the Blackhawks won Saturday's game in overtime 2-1.

RCN adds CLTV to lineup

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Tribune Co.'s CLTV will be available to RCN subscribers starting today. CLTV moved its operations to Tribune Co.'s WGN-Channel 9 in August, creating a shared newsroom with additional resources for covering stories. CLTV has been on the air for more than 16 years.

Tribune Co.-owned WGN-Channel 9 on Wednesday announced a major expansion of its newscasts. Starting Oct.5, the "WGN Midday News" will add 30 minutes and air from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., with Allison Payne and Steve Sanders fronting the expanded newscast. The new assignment reunites Payne and Sanders, who previously anchored together on WGN's 9 p.m. newscast. WGN's early evening news also will expand from 30 minutes to an hour and air 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Mark Suppelsa and Lourdes Duarte will co-anchor the early evening newscast. WGN's flagship hour-long "News at Nine" will continue as is, with Micah Materre and Suppelsa as co-anchors.

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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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