Media Notepad: Jennifer Lyons returns to WGN-TV

As seen on TV: WGN morning newscast honors Jennifer Lyons, named 2017 News Director Of The Year by Broadcasting & Cable.

Also… Iron Fist canceled; Sun-Times outsources its website; an old post about Ramonski Luv receiving a lot of traffic

It’s kind of like WFAN host Mike Francesca’s sudden return, only more warmly received: after only a few weeks away, WGN-TV news director Jennifer Lyons has returned to the Tribune Media station as reported by Robert Feder. She originally left WGN on September 14 to accept a position at Catholic Extension, where she was vice president of communications and external relations. But after careful consideration, she decided to return to the place where she felt more comfortable.

WGN GM Paul Rennie said her position was never filled, though the station did interview candidates. Lyons told Feder her heart was in journalism and wanted to return. She still has ties to Catholic Extension, where she joined the organization’s board of directions.

Lyons has been news director since 2014 and help expand the station’s news into key early fringe (afternoon) and prime access (early evening) time slots. Under her watch, WGN has challenged longtime leader WLS-TV for Chicago’s news market crown, with the station’s morning newscast usually winning in the key 25-54 news demo. On October 5 when the Jason Van Dyke trial verdict was announced, WGN topped the market in the demo and tied WLS among viewers at 2 p.m.

Lyons also runs cable news channel CLTV, who also carried the entire Van Dyke trial and was streamed live on WGN-TV’s website for those who don’t receive CLTV (such as DirecTV and Dish subscribers) or were away from their TV sets.

In 2017, Lyons was named Broadcasting & Cable’s News Director Of The Year.

Signaling the first show from the Marvel Netflix Universe family to fold, the streaming service canceled Iron Fist on Friday after two seasons. Released in March 2017, Fist starred Finn Jones as a martial arts expert presumed dead in a plane crash and surprises everyone when he suddenly shows up to reclaim his family’s company in New York. He has an ability to call upon “the iron fist”, which makes his “fist” all glowing and powerful.

Despite crossover attempts from guest stars from other MNU shows (Rosario Dawson, Simone Messick, etc.), Fist never found its footing creatively and the even though Netflix does not release viewing statistics, the show was the weakest of the four main shows in the Universe – Daredevil, Luke Cage, and Jessica Jones. The first season’s Metacritic score was a low 37 and the second was 39 – despite claims from a few fans the second season was better (they actually stuck around for season one?)

Iron Fist was indeed slow in pacing and the acting wasn’t the best. Plus, Danny Rand (Finn Jones) was basically the “butt-monkey” on the equally disappointing Defenders series, suffering from “danger-prone Daphne” syndrome. There were signs the Marvel Netflix Universe has been suffering from fatigue, with several viewers complaining the second seasons of Luke and Jessica not living up to their first. Personally, Jessica’s second season was also a creative disappointment, introducing characters who were so one-dimensional, a box of Cap’n Crunch had more personality (and it’s a good bet Jessica will not be T Dog Media top show of the year, like it was in 2016.)

Meanwhile, Daredevil’s third season – already receiving some positive vibes – drops this Friday. As for Fist, there is a possibility Marvel may revive the series for Disney’s upcoming streaming service, set to launch in 2019 as they are sister companies.

It’s been known the Chicago Sun-times has a history of operating crappy websites, plagued with pop-ups and slow loading times due to so much banner advertising. Now, the paper has contacted an outside vendor in hopes to rectify the problem. Beginning early next year, Vox Media will assume responsibilities for their multimedia properties, with a brand new “improved” website in hopes to make readers’ browsing experience a better one.

The Sun-Times is using Vox’s Chorus publishing platform to redesign the site. “It’s going to be cleaner, it’s going to be less clutter, it’s going to be less pop-ups. It’s going to be easier to get to the stories that people care about”, said Sun-Times CEO Edwin Eisendrath.

In addition, the Sun-times is joining Vox’s advertising platform, a sticking point in the deal as noted by Nieman Journalism Lab. The financial terms of the deal with Vox were not disclosed.

Eisendrath purchased the Sun-Times last year after nearly being brought by Tronc (which has since reverted back to the Tribune Publishing name). The paper made headlines of its own back in April by publishing a blank canvas on the front page to call attention to the plight of the newspaper industry in a public TV station-pledge like effort. The paper also returned to a paywall it abandoned several years ago. Even though the Sun-Times current website is a bit cleaner and more organized, it is still plagued with pop-ups and other issues.

I’ve noticed a surge of traffic on this site for one post I wrote in 2014 regarding the departure of Ramonski Luv (a.k.a. Ramon Wade) from iHeartMEdia’s WVAZ-FM (V103) as numerous people were still making comments (48 and counting.). Well, there’s a reason for that: Wade was released again from V103 several weeks ago – likely a victim of cuts at iHeartMedia, still in Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. For years, Wade was teamed up with Joe Soto in afternoons and later evenings. But V103 management dropped Wade in 2014, leaving Soto to go solo.

Wade later moved to Soul 106.3 (WSRB-FM), but left the station soon thereafter. He returned to V103 in a fill-in and part-time role, taking over for the late Herb Kent on Sunday afternoons. If you read the comments from the 2014 post, listeners are certainly upset. But in this era of corporate radio, it is a sad reminder that anyone can be expandable, no matter how popular they are. If anyone mistook the 2014 post I wrote for one dated this year, you can’t certainly blame them because whether if its 2014 or 2018, the same old radio game continues- and it’s going to get worse as iHeart Media and Cumulus emerge from bankruptcy and buy stations again in order to build up scale against Big Tech – Google, Facebook, Amazon, Sirius/XM, and Spotify – using basically the same excuse broadcast TV groups use.

Further reading:

Former WMAQ-TV anchor Warner Saunders passes at 83

Powell Broadcasting closes Panama City, Fla. radio stations due to damage done by Hurricane Michael

ABC’s Great American Baking Show returns, but without Ayesha Curry or Inside The Bears‘ Anthony “Spice” Adams


2 thoughts on “Media Notepad: Jennifer Lyons returns to WGN-TV

    • I’m really sad that I won’t get hear Ramonski Luv anymore. Listening to him was like listening to Herb. Hopefully he will resurface and we’ll have a chance to hear him again. Thankfully I have cassettes that will take me back to his earlier days on all the stations. Miss u Ski.

    • It’s sad the way radio is ran today. The days of personallity and family on the airwaves are fastly ending. I remember when you felt like Tom Joyner Doug Banks were your friends.Ramonski was from that era having worked with both of the turntable brothers. Now its only about $$$$$$ . Love You Boss with the Hot Sauce . We will hear you again soon stay Blessed

Leave a Reply to Michael Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published.