Chicago’s CBS stations to join forces to talk about crime

CBS-owned WBBM-TV and WBBM-AM are teaming up to air a town hall meeting on Saturday, May 10 called Speaking Truth: A Town Hall Meeting On Violence, which airs on both WBBM-TV and WBBM-AM (Newsradio 780) from 10 p.m to 11:30 p.m., with Channel 2 preempting their local newscast for this night only.

The special is being held to call attention to the rising violence in the Chicago area. Over one weekend last month, more than 40 people were shot and at least eight people were killed.

Participating in this summit include Channel 2 anchor Rob Johnson and Newsradio 780’s Felicia Middlebrooks, along with many public officials and community leaders to discuss solutions to the problems plaguing many Chicago communities.

Also participating include new arrivals Ryan Baker and Anne State of Channel 2, and Pat Cassidy of Newsradio 780.

Thought: While I commend WBBM-AM and TV for addressing this issue, here’s what I would do to make this special better:

– Why is this airing at 10 p.m. on a Saturday night? Why not air this special in prime-time? CBS (and NBC and ABC as well) air mostly low-rated repeats on Saturday nights anyway, so why can’t Channel 2 pre-empt or delay CBS programming for this tailgate? (And don’t tell me because they are an O&O; this excuse is so old.)

– Why not involve sister station WBBM-FM (B96) in this discussion? Why not simulcast this special on B96 as well? The hip-hop/rhythmic station’s audience is mostly made up of teens and young adults – the group that is being most impacted by this violence. Invite morning jocks Eddie Volkman, Joe Bohannon, and Erica Cobb to this discussion, as they have more of a connection to young people than a lot of others think.

– Nothing against Anne State, but she is too new to this market to understand the decades-long cycle of violence in Chicago.

While the two CBS stations made a good move, this special has the potential to become a sloppy, disappointing effort.

Meanwhile, yours truly plans to address media coverage of Chicago violence in a future Think Tank (I’ve said it twice now, and believe me, it is coming.)