The Media Notepad: Paris Schutz heads to Fox 32 as new political reporter

Also: Alyssa Donovan promoted to full-time to WGN-TV’s Weather Team; WBEZ continues its ratings freefall; Indianapolis station to air Fever games

As hinted by Politico’s Shia Kapos last week, it was made official Tuesday: Paris Schutz is headed to Fox-owned WFLD (Fox 32) where he’ll be the chief political reporter and anchor his own half-hour weekly political show, essentially replacing the now-retired Mike Flannery in the role.

Paris is the perfect fit to tackle the complex local Illinois/Chicago political scene for our station, as he is a native Chicagoan who has spent the last two decades building a network of connections and proving himself to be a knowledgeable and dedicated journalist.”, said Fox 32 SVP and GM Sheila Oliver, who took the reins last year.

Schutz was previously co-host of WTTW’s Chicago Tonight, where he was for twenty years, first starting as an intern and working his way up to producer and then reporter. Schutz announced his departure from WTTW last month after the signature news show was cut back over the years, from losing its 7 p.m. weeknight slot to being reduced to Mondays and Tuesdays.

Schutz joins Fox 32 on Monday, but there is no word yet on when his new weekly political show would premiere or where it would land on Fox 32’s schedule, but Fridays at 9:30 p.m. (Flannery Fired Up’s old slot) would be a likely landing spot.

Meanwhile, Nexstar’s WGN-TV had some news of their own to announce: The promotion of Alyssa Donovan to full-time weather anchor starting April 29, giving the forecast during the station’s midday news and at 5 p.m. She was previously a fill-in meteorologist and reporter.

Alyssa has done an amazing job, since joining WGN-TV,” said WGN news director Dominic Stasi.Already an important part of our weather department, on-air presence, accuracy and teamwork make her the right choice as weather anchor.”

Donovan came to WGN-TV in 2021 from WRTV Indianapolis and beforehand, KSHB Kansas City, both owned by Scripps where she covered a wide variety of stories, including weather.  Her career started at Spokane’s KXLY, where she reported on issues related to climate change.

WGN’s weather department has been in transition since March, after longtime meteorologist Tom Skilling retired. Skilling returned to the station April 8 to report on the solar eclipse from downstate Carbondale.

The woes continue for WBEZ and their parent company’s decision to lay off fourteen employees and shuttering Vocalo as ratings for the NPR station recently hit a new low.

Released last week, the March PPM ratings report shows WBEZ sitting in eighteenth place with a 2.0, down 16.6 percent from February, only ahead of B96, 98.7 WFMT, Power 92, and 100.3 WSHE among Chicago’s English-language full power FM stations. At the height of the pandemic four years ago, WBEZ was in the top five and finished first among adults 25-54.

Another controversy erupted last week – this time on a national level when NPR senior editor Uri Berliner blasted them in an essay titled “I’ve Been at NPR for 25 Years. Here’s How We Lost America’s Trust”. The piece led NPR to suspend Berliner, who resigned the next day. The complaints are similar to what local conservatives said about WBEZ, claiming the station and NPR had gone too far from the left.

There’s no doubt WBEZ’s decision to cut its local programming to one hour a day and shift more content to digital played a role in the ratings drop. But with that shift, look for terrestrial ratings to be less important to WBEZ as they pay more attention to other metrics including streaming and digital downloads. Since WBEZ is a public radio station, the numbers are meaningless since they have a non-commercial license. But something has to be said when you’re pissing off those on both sides of the political aisle.

In an interesting look at how different Chicago radio audiences are from New York, conservative talk WLS-AM fell to a 1.4 in the latest survey, down from 2.0 last month. On the other hand, New York’s WABC-AM with the same format finished in the top ten for the first time in years with a tie for ninth place – a stunning development in what is considered a deep blue city.


With Iowa’s Caitlin Clark headed to the WNBA’s Indiana Fever, you knew local broadcast rights in the Indianapolis market would be a hot item as Tegna announced Monday they made a deal with the team to carry seventeen games on its NBC affiliate WTHR and MeTV affiliate WALV.

“We’re delighted to build on our strong marketing partnership with the Pacers and Fever and our longstanding commitment to local Indianapolis sports,” said WTHR GM Michael Brouder.Our station has always been at the center of the biggest local events that capture the spirit of Hoosiers far and wide. Our entire team in front of and behind the camera will be helping the Fever connect with our community and fans like never before.”

Tegna plans to create a statewide network of broadcast stations (excluding Northwest Indiana, of course) so viewers can see the Fever. The first game is on May 16 at home against the New York Liberty and is also televising a home match against the Chicago Sky on June 1.

Clark’s play has drawn record interest in NCAA Women’s Basketball with the National Championship outdrawing the Men’s despite airing in the afternoon of April 7. The 2024 WNBA Draft on April 15 drew 2.45 million viewers – the highest in 22 years – as Clark was the first pick and drafted by Indiana.

There’s no doubt the WNBA will benefit from Clark’s presence, as 36 of her team’s 40 games will be televised nationally by Ion, Amazon Prime Video, CBS, ESPN/ABC, or NBA TV as she will get a lot of exposure.

The Chicago Sky – who had a successful draft night of their own – are scheduled to compete against the Indiana Fever twice this season, with games on June 1 and June 23 at Wintrust Arena. The team’s TV schedule has not been announced yet, as local broadcasting rights are shared between Marquee Sports Network and Weigel Broadcasting.


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