The Media Notepad: Robert Feder exits Daily Herald, steps away from the media beat

Also: Nexstar, The CW moves closer to deal; Magnum P.I. moves to NBC; Broadband comes to western Illinois town

After 42 years on the media beat, Daily Herald media reporter Robert Feder is stepping away as he exited the paper July 1.

Feder started writing at the Chicago Sun-Times in 1980 until he took a buyout from the paper in 2008. After stints at Vocalo and Time Out Chicago, Feder landed at the Daily Herald in 2017. Feder will continue to operate his website and maintain his social media accounts. Here’s part of what he wrote in his final column

The luckiest people are those who get to do what they love for a living — and decide when it’s time to stop. I’m one of them.

After 42 years of reporting on Chicago media, I’m stepping away from the beat. My website at will continue online, but effective today, I’m concluding the run of my daily column and wrapping up my tenure with the Daily Herald.

I especially appreciate the support of my great colleagues at the Daily Herald, who’ve made the last five years a highlight of my career. I am pleased that the archive of my columns will continue to be accessible through the Daily Herald’s website.

I’m not retiring and I’m not going away. You can still follow me on Twitter and Facebook, where I’ll keep you posted on what I’m up to and perhaps break some news from time to time.

For me, Feder – along with others, have been an inspiration to me as I’ve regularly read his columns since I was twelve – it was certainly a different media world in those pre-Fox and pre-internet days, with just three networks as WGN-TV and WFLD were still independent stations and WLS-AM and the old WMAQ 67 were still playing music, believe it or not. He’s covered Jonathan Brandmeier, Mancow Muller, Bob Collins, Steve Dahl and Garry Meier, and countless other Chicago media personalities. Feder has evolved with the changing media landscape and that’s why he lasted as long as he did. 

My name has popped up in his columns several times, as he told me he was a fan of my work. It’s been an honor, and I wish him nothing but the best. Thank you. 

There was another update last week on where Nexstar stood on their pursuit of The CW, and it turns out the Dallas-area broadcaster is “close” to acquiring the network. In other words, it’s six inches closer to a deal than it was last month. 

Some details were released about the structure of the deal if it comes to fruition with Nexstar controlling 75 percent of the network and Warner Bros. Discovery and Paramount Global – currently in a 50/50 partnership of the network, seeing their ownership reduced to 12.5 percent each. Nexstar would actually pay nothing for the network as they would assume all the debt associated with it. 

Also last week, The CW canceled another show (Tom Swift) and once again rose questions on what direction the network would take once the deal is finalized. According to a article last week in Deadline, Nexstar would shift the network’s programming toward a more “wholesome” direction. There is no secret station groups are historically more politically conservative than the networks they’re affiliated with, given Sinclair Broadcasting and others complained about the liberal bent of network TV programming for years. Many CW shows have included LGBTQ and POC characters. 

Nexstar – owners of little-watched cable news network NewsNation and political website The Hill, is the largest station owner in the country and owns (and/or operates) CW affiliates WPIX New York, KTLA Los Angeles, and WPHL Philadelphia. In Chicago, Nexstar owns former CW affiliate-turned-indie WGN-TV as Weigel owns CW affiliate WCIU. 

We have another update on an item I wrote about a few weeks ago: The fate of Magnum P.I., a reboot of the 1980s series starring Jay Hernandez – one of the few Latino leads in a prime-time network series as there was talk of the show being picked up by NBC as the contract options for the cast we set to expire June 30. CBS canceled the series in May after four seasons. 

Well, the options were picked up as NBC agreed to order twenty episodes of Magnum in a two-year deal – meaning, ten episodes would air per season. During its four years at CBS, Magnum was a co-production of CBS Television Studios and Universal Television, with NBCUniversal Global Distribution handling foreign sales and CBS Media Ventures handling domestic sales, as repeats of the show will air weekends in syndication starting in September. 

Universal Television and NBC share a corporate parent in NBCUniversal. Hernandez thanked fans for their support in a video

Magnum P.I. joins over one hundred shows who were saved by another network after cancellation. They include Bachelor Father, Get Smart, Taxi, The Hogan Family, and Brooklyn Nine-Nine, among others. In 1997, CBS outbid ABC for the rights to air Family Matters and Step By Step, ending their long runs on the alphabet network. As you guessed, the acquisitions were a disaster (in more ways than one) as both were canceled a year later. 

Surf CEO Gene Crusie (left) with Mendota Area Chamber of Commerce President Shelby Weide. (Surf Broadband)

About two months ago, this space spotlighted the digital divide and how minority and rural communities are often on the short end of the stick when it comes to broadband access. Well, a city 85 miles west of Chicago is about to get a huge boost.

Last week, internet provider Surf Broadband Solutions broke ground – literally – to install high-speed fiber internet through Mendota, Ill., a city with 7,000 residents located on the western edge of the Chicago DMA. The project started June 28 and it’s expected to take three months with hopes on getting service fully operational by late September. Fiber optic internet in LaSalle County, where Mendota is located, is only available to 2 percent of the population according to Broadband Now

“Surf has been serving customers in the Mendota region for over a decade through our wireless internet offerings”, said Surf CEO Gene Crusie in a statement, as reported in Multichannel News. “We are grateful to Terry [Barr] for his vision and are excited to now bring the transformational technology of fiber internet to one of our hometowns.”

Barr is a Surf Communications employee who happens to own Terry’s Computer Shack, a computer dealer in Mendota. He’s heard from residents about the lack of reliable and affordable internet access. Barr merged his company with Surf five years ago. 

According to Broadband Now, Surf is the dominant provider in Mendota but is also served by Xfinity in 83 percent of the 61942 zip code, where Mendota resides. Mendota is the 293rd most connected municipality in Illinois. 


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