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

Recently in WGN Category

Fox-owned WFLD-Channel 32 is believed to have shed more employees today, in what one source familiar with developments described as a "bloodbath."

Sources had been predicting such an eventuality since last week, but a station spokeswoman said as recently as late last week she knew of no layoffs in the offing. The spokeswoman could not be immediately reached for comment today. It also could not be immediately determined how many people were axed, but WFLD is clearly reeling from a dropoff in advertising revenue. That is due in part to a general drop in ad revenue throughout the broadcasting industry, but also because WFLD's local newscasts generally trend at the lower end of the ratings spectrum among all Chicago TV stations.

WFLD, along with NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5, are spearheading a news-gathering joint venture involving four of the five top-rated TV stations in Chicago. On Monday WFLD and WMAQ, along with Tribune Co.-owned WGN-Channel 9 and CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2, will start pooling camera crews and use the pool video footage in their respective newscasts. The venture is designed to reduce costs and help each of the participating stations presumably do more with fewer resources.

It's official. As first tipped here Wednesday, WGN-AM (720) has named veteran Chicago radio talent Garry Meier as the host of the news/talk radio station's mid-afternoon show from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. He will begin his new show Friday, Apr. 3.

Meier is no stranger to tens of thousands of avid radio listeners. For 15 years he was half of one of the most successful of all radio on-air parings when he co-hosted the "Steve & Garry Show" with Steve Dahl, who is no longer on air. Meier also worked for eight years alongside Roe Conn on the "Roe & Garry Show."

In announcing Meier's hiring, WGN Vice President and General Manager Tom Langmyer described the new mid-afternoon host as "contemporary, smart, hip and fun." Most importantly, though, Meier is likely to attract a somewhat younger demo to WGN, which has a large, loyal, but somewhat older listener base.

This just in. Tribune Broadcasting said Wednesday it intends to "integrate" the operations of its 24-hour cable news station CLTV with Chicago's very own WGN-Channel 9. Of course, in this day and age, "integrate" is one of those euphemisms that typically get trotted out when a company is looking to do some serious downsizing. A Tribune spokesman confirmed that integrating the staffs of the two stations is likely to result in some layoffs, but exactly how many has not yet been determined. Also still to be worked out is how WGN's unionized on-air talent will work alongside CLTV's non-unionized anchors and reporters. Tribune may try to cut a deal with the union that would allow on-air talent at both stations to move back and forth between the two television outlets. But when all the integration dust has settled by the summer of this year, Tribune Broadcasting says CLTV will continue to operate as stand-alone channel.

payne.jpg Longtime news anchor Allison Payne plans to return to Tribune Co.-owned WGN-Channel 9 on Monday, after having been off the air for several months.

Per WGN management, Payne had spent her time away from the station rehabilitating from a series of mini-strokes. But her rehabilitation apparently is not complete yet. Payne reportedly will focus only on anchoring WGN's early newscast at 5:30 p.m., so she can continue with her rehabilitation.

Payne was for many years a fixture on the station's flagship 9 p.m. weekday newscast.

It wasn't immediately clear if, or when, she might return to WGN's 9 p.m. news report, which now includes Mark Suppelsa as a co-anchor.

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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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This page is an archive of recent entries in the WGN category.

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