Robert Feder to step down (updated)

I was stunned and a bit saddened when I read that Robert Feder was stepping down from his longtime position on the TV/Radio beat after 28 years at the Chicago Sun-Times to take a buyout. The Sun-Times offered employees who worked there more than 25 years a full year of pay and benefits and Feder took them up on the offer.

Feder, along with Marc Berman of Mediaweek and Aaron Barnhart of the Kansas City Star and TV Barn, are always must-reads for me every day and all three have profound influences on me and this blog basically because of their vast knowledge of the media business.

I’ve been reading Feder since I was eleven and his column was always the first I would read when I picked up the Sun-Times. Feder extensively covered local radio and television in a unique way. Though some didn’t like his assessment of the industry (including some anchors, radio personalities, executives, and so forth), and I sometimes disagreed with him on a few issues, Feder was always honest and fair – and he told it like it was.

One of my favorite columns I would look forward to was his year-end roundup of radio and TV. It contained some rather wild items, including two from 1986 in which Joe Ahern (then GM of WLS-TV) was called a “cross-dresser” and a “Nazi” by Joan Rivers after he canceled her appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show and a former salesman from NBC affiliate KING-TV in Seattle drove his car through the station’s front doors – which was done earlier by a disgruntled job applicant.

One thing he admitted in his column today is the media business hasn’t been fun to cover lately (especially radio), and the cutbacks in the newspaper industry has hurt the viability of those who cover the TV/radio beat, as some papers have axed it. If you’ve noticed, television critics have vanished from newspapers in Los Angeles, Dallas, Houston, Seattle, Phoenix, Indianapolis, and Las Vegas, among others.

Feder basically provided insight into local radio and television stations and into local media personalities like no one else could. It was a dream of his to cover the industry he has religiously followed since childhood, and his columns have helped me gained an understanding of what goes on in this business as well as a look into the inner workings of radio and television – an interest this media geek has had since I was little. If it wasn’t for his columns – this blog and my interest in media – wouldn’t exist. Chicago was fortunate to have Feder on the media beat.

The only thing left to say to Rob Feder is: Thank you for having a great influence on my interest in radio and television. It’s going to strange not reading your column every Tuesday through Friday morning. You will be missed.

Robert Feder. A class act all the way.

Updated 11:50 p.m. on 2008-09-24