Media Notepad: Fan displays “white power” symbol during live Cubs telecast

Also: Extra doubles up on name and gets a new host; New York’s WPLJ ends run May 31; and more

In a bizarre incident captured on live TV Tuesday night during a Miami Marlins-Chicago Cubs game at Wrigley Field, a fan displayed what is known as a “white supremacist hand sign” during a live shot.

It occurred while Doug Glanville (pictured above) was reporting from the Cubs’ dugout for NBC Sports Chicago when a fan leaned into the camera behind him and displayed the an upside-down “OK” sign – which in recent years is a gesture for “white power.” It’s a symbol the alt-right has been using to display hatred.

In this thread from Twitter, a leader of a white supremacist organization in Las Vegas was seen giving the “OK” sign while he and a friend were screaming racial slurs in a viral video.

The fan’s action was swiftly denounced by the Cubs and NBC Sports Chicago. The person was identified and has been banned for life from the ballpark. Not surprisingly, some on social media and in comment sections defended the fan’s actions say it was a “silly childhood game” though it’s one I’ve never heard of.

Glanville, a former Cub outfielder who also played for the Philadelphia Phillies and Texas Rangers, released a brief statement on what happened:

“Last evening, while I was providing live commentary during NBC Sports Chicago’s coverage of the Cubs-Marlins game on air, a fan used what appears to have been an offensive hand gesture that can be associated with white supremacy. I was made aware of what happened after the broadcast segment. The Chicago Cubs organization with the cooperation of NBC Sports is investigating this incident.

I applaud the responsiveness of both the Chicago Cubs organization and NBC Sports in investigating this matter. They have reached out to me and are supportive of my role in the broadcast and continue to have a desire to uphold an inclusive environment at Wrigley Field. They have displayed sensitivity as to how the implications of this would affect me as a person of color.

I am supporting their efforts in fully investigating the matter and I will comment further once the investigation is complete.”

In an even more bizarre twist, USA Today in a tweet misidentified the fan banned from the ballpark for life as… Theo Epstein.

The tweet was quickly deleted as Epstein was one of many in the Cubs organization denouncing the gesture: “The incident last night is truly disgusting. It gave me shivers to watch that, to see that take place at Wrigley Field. Appropriately, we’ve made clear how egregious and unacceptable that behavior is, and there’s no place for that in society, in baseball, and Wrigley Field. The person responsible for that gesture will never be welcomed back at Wrigley Field.”

Similar to WLUP’s demise last year – at the hands of the same entity no less – New York radio fans are lamenting the loss of WPLJ-FM when the station confirmed what many knew for months: WPLJ is ending its 48-year run on May 31 as it
flips to the K-Love Christian CHR format, thanks to its sale to the Educational Media Foundation.

The news generated significant media coverage in New York City, with all local stations, the New York Post and New York Times reporting on its demise.

WPLJ began as ABC Radio’s WJZ-FM and WABC-FM and evolved to Progressive Rock WPLJ in 1971 and became one of the most successful album-oriented rock stations. By 1983, WPLJ evolved into a contemporary hit radio station and right off the bat had competition from newly launched WHTZ-FM (Z100), as the two waged a spirited rivalry for New York City’s Top 40 audience. With the splintering of the CHR audience (and added competition from WQHT Hot 97), WPLJ evolved into a Hot AC format by 1991 and stuck with it since.

American Top 40 was also featured prominently on WPLJ during both Casey Kasem and Shadoe Stevens eras between 1984 and 1994, when ABC Radio stopped syndicating the show domestically.

ABC sold its radio group – including WLS-AM/FM in Chicago to Citadel in 2006, who later sold them to Cumulus, the current owner. Cumulus sold two stations in its New York cluster in February: WPLJ to EMF and country music station WNSH-FM to Entercom. Cumulus also sold Washington’s WRXQ-FM to EMF.

WPLJ was home to NYC’s longest-tenured morning team in Scott Shannon and Todd Pettennigill until Shannon left for crosstown rival WCBS-FM in 2014. Pettengill remained in morning drive, eventually getting a new co-host in 2015 with Jayde Donovan.

The shakeup comes as EMF has been buying up heritage stations across the country to expand its blueprint, as the non-profit company mainly relies on donations instead of commercials. In addition to WLUP, EMF has swallowed Shaw University’s WSHA-FM in Raleigh and recently, WFXF-FM (103.9 The Fox) in suburban Chicagoland.

Before the station closes its doors, WPLJ plans a reunion of station alumni currently being organized by Tom Cuddy, who was VP of programming of the station from 1990 to 2009 (and beforehand, a producer for AT 40.)

Guess who’s resurfacing from the gutter: Billy Bush – the former Access Hollywood co-host caught on tape talking to Donald Trump about women in derogatory terms, is back – hired by Warner Bros. Television Distribution to become the new host of Extra, and is adding an extra “Extra” to its name.

Beginning Sept. 9, Bush takes over as host of the new Extra Extra, as the series enters its 26th year. This is also the date the Fox owned-and-operated stations takes over as the primary station group of the show, replacing NBC who had a hand creating the original Extra when it launched in 1994.

In Chicago, Extra already moved to Fox-owned WFLD-TV in 2016 after NBC’s WMAQ declined to renew the show after 22 years in order to expand its afternoon newscasts. Extra currently runs at 3 p.m. and 11:35 p.m. This fall, sister stations WNYW in New York and KTTV in Los Angeles join WFLD in airing Extra Extra.

The series will also move to a new set leaving the outdoor studio at Universal behind and relocating to new digs in Burbank. As for current host Mario Lopez, he is expected to become co-host of Access (formerly Access Hollywood) and Access Live, replacing the recently-departed Natalie Morales.

As for Extra’s replacement on the remaining NBC O&Os carrying the show, there is still no word on a replacement. According to Broadcasting and Cable, a live true-crime series is being planned, but no information has been released. Even though NATPE is in the rear-view mirror, it’s never too late to launch a new syndicated show as on Monday, Trifecta Entertainment announced a new first-run courtroom strip called Protection Court, scheduled to debut this fall and is being produced in Miami.

Further reading:

A roundup of other media news from the last week:

In a terrific move, NBC Sports Chicago re-ups with David Kaplan to continue as host of Sports Talk Live. (Robert Feder)

WBBM-AM employees are demanding higher pay as their union contract with Entercom is up soon and are now under negotiation. (Sun-Times)

Best wishes to Kristen Nicole, who is exiting WFLD news to return home to Lexington, Kentucky. You can see her goodbye video here. (WFLD)

WMAQ/WSNS’ Diane Hannes receives a promotion as she becomes general manger of NBC’s WVIT and Telemundo’s WRDM in Hartford-New Haven. (Robert Feder)

ABC’s new Press Your Luck revival premieres June 12 at 7 p.m. Chicago time and is being hosted by actress Elizabeth Banks. Joel McHale meanwhile, will helm the Card Sharks revival.

HBO’s Game of Thrones continues to dominate Sundays while The Red Line sinks further. (Spotted Ratings)

And…Aaron Barnhart (of TV Barn fame) is back! (Primetimer)

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