WBEZ cuts freelance contributions, wants more contributions from audience

June 11, 2013
Category: Uncategorized

Chicago Reader

Theater critics Jonathan Abarbanel and Kelly Kleiman “were told their services were no longer required, though it would be nice if they’d occasionally donate them,” Michael Miner reports.

“They want listener-generated content. They want audience participation. They want call-ins,” Kleiman tells Miner. “Given that, they don’t have any use for experts. [WBEZ Executive Producer] Justin [Kaufmann] said, ‘If we want an expert on theater we can call [the Tribune’s] Chris Jones to come in for free.'”

Kaufmann confirmed the cuts to Miner, and told him the station let go others, too:

Also gone are bloggers Claire Zulkey (pop culture), Louisa Chu (food), Chris Bentley (environment), John Schmidt (local history), and Cheryl Raye Stout (sports), though Kaufmann said she may continue at WBEZ as a podcaster. Achy Obejas (city life) resigned to become writer in residence at Mills College in California, Nico Lang (LGBTQ) in favor of a job in New York City.

Kaufmann tells Miner WBEZ is trying to get away from a model where “the host would act like Charlie Rose or John Callaway.”

My first goal is to get audience interaction, so everyone knows it’s a show you call in to. We’re just about there. Every local show has to have the audience involved in some way. They call in, or it’s ‘Ray left this comment on Facebook.’ The goal is audience interaction on every single show.”

Kaufmann dangled the possibility of unpaid on-air commentary to Abarbanel and Kleiman, Miner reports.

In other Chicago media news, RedEye social media editor Jessica Galliart tweeted today that Editor Tran Ha is leaving, and the paper would hire two managing editors. Ha was named a Knight Fellow in late April.



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