T Dog’s Grab Bag: TribLocal makes changes after scandal

Notes and news – in this mostly local edition of the Grab Bag:

Even “Ted” here can do a better job of running the Tribune than Gerould Kern.

– As mentioned briefly in the Tribune bankruptcy post on Saturday, the Chicago Tribune was recently caught using fake bylines and plagiarizing and fabricating stories in TribLocal, the paper’s hyperlocal network of websites and print properties serving Chicago’s suburbs. On Friday, the Tribune announced it was parting ways with Journatic, the company that provided the content for TribLocal after Tribune editors discovered material in a sports article in the Deerfield version of TribLocal was fabricated.

On Monday, Chicago Tribune editor Gerould Kern announced the paper’s staff will take over writing duties for all TribLocal content, effective immediately. This is the latest in a string of embarrassments plaguing the Tribune since Sam Zell bought the company in a leveraged buyout in 2007, forcing the company into bankruptcy a year later.

But what’s more galling here is the Tribune continued to use Journatic even after the fake byline scandal, where articles for TribLocal were written by someone in the Philippines, but used under American pseudonyms. When this was discovered, Journatic should have been dropped.

So Gerould Kern, when do we expect the Tribune Watchdog to investigate this scandal at TribLocal? How are you guys supposed to focus on uncovering scandals when there’s one at the paper itself? This mess – and more – happened on your watch. Kern, you are a fraud and a disgrace and you should step down as editor.

– Cumulus has named Donna Burke as new Marketing Manager at WLS-AM/FM, replacing interim manager Dave Crowl in the role. Burke fills the void fill by former exec Michael Damsky, who involuntarily left the position in April. Baker comes from Cumulus’ Houston cluster, where she held the same role. Burke was named one of the “Most Influential Women In Radio” by Radio Ink and was named Market Manager Of The Year by the same magazine.

– And it looks like Ms. Burke will have her work cut out for her here as far as WLS-AM is concerned – it and other AM stations have sprung a leak according to the June PPM numbers from Arbitron. WLS-AM finished thirteenth overall, down from eleventh in May. Other AM stations had similar declines, including both sports stations and WGN-AM, whose eleventh-place finish is the lowest in recent memory. In fact, all-news WBBM-AM was the only AM station in the top ten, and they were down 12 percent month-to month.

On the other side of the radio spectrum, the news is better – a whole lot better. After years of decline, FM stations are seeing month-to-month gains (except WIQI, of course) with Clear Channel’s WVAZ (V103) finishing first overall while sister station WKSC-FM finished second – the highest ranking for a CHR outlet in Chicago since WBBM-FM topped the Arbitron charts in 2000. And speaking of B96, the station finished in a tie for fifth with the AM sister of the same call letter name and WOJO-FM. WTMX was third and WLS-FM was fourth.

WTMX reigned supreme among adults 25-54, finishing first in the demo thanks in part to the Eric & Kathy morning show, which also finished first. Other 25-54 demo winners include WVAZ, WDRV, WKSC, WBBM-FM, and WGCI. The highest any AM station placed in the money demo was WSCR, which finished eleventh (to see more detailed analysis on the 25-54 numbers, click here.)

As for the new WKQX on 87.7, it leaped out of the starting gate finishing for a tie for 20th place overall and did well in the young demos it targets.

This survey could reflect a humongous shift in Chicago’s radio ratings landscape. Time will tell if this a fluke or something more long-term.

– You can forget about any Chicago radio personalities participating in Dish Nation, Twentieth Television’s new entertainment magazine show featuring morning drive personalities’ commentary on the day’s pop culture stories while on the air in their respective markets. Instead of going with a DJ in America’s third-largest radio market, Dish Nation signed syndicated radio host Kidd Kraddick from Dallas and the Blaine & Allison show from Cumulus’ WDVD-FM Detroit.

They join Scott Shannon and Todd Pettingill from WPLJ-FM in New York; Rickey Smiley and Ebonie Steele from the syndicated Atlanta-based The Rickey Smiley Show (which is heard locally on WPWX-FM, Power 92); and DJ Laz from CBS’ KAMP-FM in Los Angeles.

How odd the producers of the show pass up Chicago and instead sign radio personalities from Dallas and Detroit to represent Mid-America. After all, aren’t we are home to President Obama and to a mayor who makes national headlines every week? Besides, this is one of the most lame-brained concepts ever conceived for television, and thank God we won’t have any part of this stupid show.

If you care, Dish Nation premieres Sept. 10 on WFLD-TV in a time period yet to be determined.

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