Lori Lightfoot to address city’s financial issues in prime-time address

Local stations to carry speech

In what has to be a first in recent memory, a sitting Chicago Mayor will address the city’s financial problems in a prime-time speech.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot will address those concerns Thursday night in a speech airing on most of the Chicago area’s media outlets, including TV and radio stations. Even though some have billed it as a “prime-time address”, it is technically taking place in “prime access” at 6 p.m., the hour before prime-time here in the Central Time Zone in order not to pre-empt network programming.

So far, CBS-owned WBBM-TV; NBC-owned WMAQ-TV, and Tribune’s WGN-TV (and CLTV) plan to carry the speech within their regularly scheduled newscasts. ABC-owned WLS-TV is airing a Cubs-Mets game at 6 p.m., but is airing on their digital subchannel 7.2.

The plans of Fox-owned WFLD-TV to carry Lightfoot’s speech are unknown at press time. (Editor’s Note: WFLD did air said speech.) The station is contractually obligated to air a Bears pre-game show at 6:30 p.m. as a lead-in to a their preseason game against Tennessee. It is not known if they would carry the speech on My Network TV affiliate WPWR-TV if WFLD wasn’t available.

News station WBBM-AM also plans to carry the speech as is WTTW and WBEZ-FM (Editor’s Note: WBBM-AM was not able to due to Bears pre-game show.) 

It is not known how long the speech would last as it could pre-empt entertainment magazine shows Entertainment Tonight on WBBM and Access (soon to be renamed Access Hollywood again) on WMAQ.

The speech comes as Lightfoot just finished her first one hundred days in office. Lightfoot was elected Chicago’s first African-American female and first lesbian mayor in April. Even though Lightfoot has been received more warmly than Emanuel has (in more quarters than in others), the city continues to be hammered on the world stage and on social media (especially by Trump supporters) for its gun violence problem, despite shootings and homicides being down year-to-year.

Chicago also continues to see its population shrink, but remains the nation’s third-largest media market.

Lightfoot plans to address the city’s financial shortfall, which could affect services as she instituted a hiring freeze across all city departments recently. As reported here a few weeks ago, the FCC – with an assist from the telecom industry – slashed franchise fees, reducing the amount of revenue cities like Chicago can take in to continue operating PEG channels. With Chicago’s financial problems, they would have to shoulder more of the cost operating channels such as CAN TV and their own. With the city in financial trouble, chances are those channels could be eliminated.

Though not a speech addressing the city, an interview featuring Lightfoot’s predecessor Rahm Emanuel aired across forty radio stations across the Chicago area in November 2016 at 6 p.m. The stunt was panned by many listeners, but praised by radio consultants and experts.

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