Channel Zero Oct. 19, 2020

October 19, 2020
By John Owens, NATAS Chicago/Midwest President

And the Emmy Goes to…

As we mentioned in our last newsletter, there won’t be a live Emmys Awards Ceremony, for obvious, pandemic-related reasons.

But we now have an official date and time for our virtual Emmys event. It will be on Sunday, Nov. 22 at 7 p.m. The stream will be available on our website and will be available via livestream on YouTube and Vimeo.

The host for the show is comedian Pat McGann,who returns after hosting our Emmys show back in 2016. Pat, the former house MC at Zanies Chicago, has been a guest on shows like “Late Show with Stephen Colbert” and Late Show with David Letterman.” He also was the creator and co-host of “The Chicago Standup Project”, which ran on WTTW a few years ago.

This will be a unique event for us. The show will feature presenters representing seven markets in our chapter: Chicago, Milwaukee, Madison, Green Bay, South Bend, Rockford and Peoria. Those presenters will also feature and pay tribute to notable first responders/essential workers in their market.

It promises to be an unforgettable night, even though we won’t get to share it in person. That said, we are excited about the opportunity to showcase all of our markets in ways that we have never done before.So please reserve the date and time in front of your computer or television on Sunday, Nov. 22 at 7 p.m.! And look at the bright side — free parking!

Vaughn McClure 1972-2020

It was a shock to hear about the death of ESPN sports reporter Vaughn McClure, as reported in Robert Feder’s column on Friday.

He died at his home in Atlanta, where he covered the Atlanta Falcons and the NFL for ESPN. McClure, who was only 48, was born in Chicago.

I knew Vaughn from his time at the Chicago Tribune, when we both worked there during the early part of the last decade. He was an extremely nice man and an excellent reporter. I believe he did his first extensive broadcast work while at the Tribune, both in programming produced by the newspaper and at Comcast SportsNet Chicago. It was great to see him become just as proficient as a broadcaster as he always was as a writer.

This piece from Rashad Milligan at a Sports Illustrated microsite is a wonderful appreciation of McClure. He will definitely be missed.

Going National

Congratulations to Whitney Reynolds, whose self-named weekly talk show is being offered to PBS stations nationwide beginning on January 6, according to Feder.

Her weekly “inspirational talk show”, produced for Lakeshore PBS WYIN-Channel 56, is already on five PBS stations and Amazon Prime Video.

It’s always great to see regional programming take the next step to national recognition.

Campaign Ads

Milwaukee and Green Bay are being heavily targeted with ads by the Biden and Trump campaigns for the upcoming election, which is only two weeks away.

Milwaukee is seventh among markets running the most presidential ads on television over the past two weeks, while the Green Bay market is 11th, according to Milwaukee/Fox 6.

Jessob Reisbeck

Speaking of Milwaukee, former WITI-TV (Fox 6) reporter Jessob Reisbeck is returning to the city, after spending two years as a reporter and co-anchor at WJLA-TV in Washington, D.C.

Reisbeck will be an evening news anchor at WDJT-TV (CBS 58) starting next month, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He will co-anchor the station’s 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. shows with Natalie Shepherd. And he will also co-anchor the 9 p.m. news on WMLW-TV, an independent station in Milwaukee CBS 58 and WMLW-TV are both owned by Chicago-based Weigel Broadcasting.

The Batman
The Batman franchise is back filming in Chicago. The new film, called “The Batman”, filmed here last weekend and will also film here on the weekend of Oct. 24, according to Screen Magazine. The trade magazine reports that the stars —Robert Pattinson, Colin Farrell and Zoe Kravitz — will not be here for the filming this weekend.

Chicago has often been transformed into Gotham City. “Batman Begins” (2005), “The Dark Knight” (2008) and “Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice” (2016) were also shot here.


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Channel Zero Oct. 5, 2020

October 5, 2020
By John Owens, NATAS Chicago/Midwest President

Nominations Announced

As expected, coverage of this year’s global pandemic and historic nationwide civil unrest after George Floyd’s police-related death in Minneapolis dominated in the 2019-2020 Chicago/Midwest Emmy Nominations list, which was released by the NATAS Chicago/Midwest chapter this week. Stations in Chicago, Milwaukee, Madison and Rockford were all recognized by the Academy for their stellar work on these two extraordinary stories in the Outstanding Achievement for News Gathering categories. But other major stories of the 2019-2020 also were also represented in the nominations list, including the mass shooting where five died at the Molson Coors Brewery in Milwaukee in February; and the chaotic incident where a motorist drove his SUV through Woodfield Mall.

Other highlights include multiple nominations for media producers not affiliated with broadcast networks, ranging from the Green Bay Packers, the Chicago Blackhawks and Fighting Irish Media to Spirit Juice Media, Grotto Network, Lucid Creative Agency and Bitter Jester Studios.

This will be our 62nd Annual Chicago/Midwest Emmy Awards event. But this year, our Emmy Awards Ceremony will be virtual, in keeping with social distancing guidelines due to the global pandemic. The event will be streamed on our website ( in mid-November. The date and host for the event will be officially announced in the coming days on our website.

The ceremony will feature presenters from all eight markets in our chapter, and we will pay special tribute to frontline workers during the pandemic in all of those markets.

News and Documentary Emmy Awards
Chicago was represented in the 41st Annual National News and Documentary Emmy Awards, which were also staged virtually earlier this month.  “16 Shots”,the Showtime documentary about the 2014 Chicago police shooting of Laquan McDonald, was named the Outstanding Investigative Documentary in the event. The documentary was produced by noted Chicago investigative journalist Jamie Kalven, who heads the Chicago non-profit journalism organization Invisible Institute. Kalven broke the McDonald story in this 2015 Slate Magazine article.  You can watch the complete National News and Documentary Emmy Awards here

Google Tools workshop
NATAS Chicago/Midwest kicks off its season of virtual special events and workshops with a Google Tools workshop that we’ll co-sponsor with the Society of Professional Journalists. SPJ digital trainer Mike Reilley will give you, hands on training so you can easily build interactive charts, maps, visualizations and more. Tools we’ll cover: Google Trends, MyMaps, Earth Pro, Earth Studio, Earth Engine Timelapse, Google Scholar, Google Dataset Search, Google Flourish, data scraping with Google Sheets and Tabula.  The best thing about all these incredible tools — they’re all free!

Mike, a former reporter with the L.A. Times and web editor with the Chicago Tribune, has taught this workshop to almost 4,000 journalists. So this is one that you won’t want to miss. The two-hour workshop is on Monday, Oct. 12 at 7 p.m. RSVP for this free virtual workshop here.

Chicago Film Festival
October is one of my favorite months, not only because it is this writer’s birthday month, but also because of the Chicago International Film Festival. I always try to make room on my schedule for multiple screenings at River East, the usual spot for the festival. Of course, this year’s social distancing guidelines preclude these kinds of screenings. But while much of the CIFF will be virtual, there will be some in-person screenings … at various drive-ins! That includes the World Premiere of “Belushi”, the long-awaited doc about legendary Second City/SNL comedian John Belushi. The festival is from Oct. 14 to Oct. 25 — the complete screening list and ticket information can be found here,

Congratulations to former WLS-TV President and General Manager Emily Barr, who was named Broadcaster of the Year by the periodical “Broadcasting and Cable”. Barr, now the president and CEO of Graham Media Group, received her award on Oct. 1 at TVB’s Alt Forward Conference. Barr served as President and GM for ABC 7 Chicago from 1997 to 2012.

Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism is offering up a series of unique free virtual workshops designed to introduce high school students to careers in journalism and the media. Each workshop will feature notable Medill faculty, including former Chicago Tribune reporter Melissa Isaacson and Arionne Nettles. All high school students, advisers and parents are invited to attend. Register

Chicago On Film
The Chicago Tribune’s Tracy Swartz has a good report here on how Chicago has continued to be a Midwest center of film production, despite the pandemic. FX’s “Fargo” and Amazon Prime’s “Utopia” both primarily shot in Chicago. “Utopia” wrapped a year ago, but “Fargo” shot here up until last month.
WGN-AM’s Hall of Fame broadcaster Orion Samuelson announced his retirement late last month after 60 years at the station. Robert Feder reports that Dec. 31 will be his last day on the air. The legendary 86-year-old broadcaster will still do “five or six daily business reports for WGN” per weeks= until the end of the year, Feder reports. This writer fondly remembers his early morning WGN-TV show, “Top O’ The Morning”, which aired before “Ray Rayner & Friends” in the late ‘60s and early 70s — a show which consisted of Mr. Samuelson reading detailed farm reports and organ music (!) from what was surely the last organist staffed by a television station. If you have some time, check out this raw video from Media Burn, showing Samuelson hosting the U.S. Farm Report for WGN-AM at a downstate Illinois Farm Progress Show back in 1991. The raw video was from the award-winning PBS series “The 90s”.
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