Thursday, April 16, 2009

What's In A Name? The NBC Tower


 The NBC Tower is one of our favorite Chicago buildings.  In fact, it may be one of the best looking buildings in the city.  But we can't help but wonder these days if it's in for a name change.

For the last couple of months the Sun-Times has been chirping about NBC Universal moving production of the Jerry Springer Show and the Steve Wilkos Show to Connecticut.  Then last week there was a big brouhaha when NBC informed the state that it plans to lay off more than 100 people who work in the tower.  And now he rumblings are getting louder about NBC selling WMAQ-TV.

It's not exactly a secret that NBC doesn't want to be in the local television business anymore.  Word in broadcast circles is that the peacock network would like to dump every local station it has outside of New York and Los Angeles .  The fire sale is already on in New England where Providence is gone and Hartford is next.  How long until the flames reach the Illinois prairie?

It will be a sad day for Chicago when that illuminated peacock is winched down from the 37th floor of 200 East Illinois Street.  Sure, channel 5 will continue to broadcast, but Chicago will have lost another bit of broadcast prestige and the city's cultural voice that once boomed across the nation's midsection will become yet a little quieter.


  1. Its truly amazing that the 3rd largest city and capital of the midwest is such a media backwater. It used to be a national force.

  2. When I was a kid in New York, my father and I would listen to WLUP on the radio. Then WLUP went sports, something we could get on a local channel much easier, so we stopped listening and stopped thinking about Chicago.

    Unfortunately, the broadcasters of Chicago too often have taken the cheap way out by using syndicated content from the east or west coasts, or imitating that same content. Without unique content, there is no reason to seek out anything in Chicago.

    It's like when WBEZ went from playing Chicago jazz and blues and instead started carrying syndicated talk shows as "Chicago Public Radio." Something uniquely Chicago was lost as WBEZ began pumping out the same old talk shows heard on a thousand other stations across the country.

    Chicago's live entertainment scene is remarkably bright. It seems like every couple of months a new theater or troupe is opening up or closing down. That kind of creative energy should be harnessed in a way that it can be spread to a wider audience.

    Maybe the state should find a way to encourage the growth of local media the way it's done such a good job with the movie industry. Chicago is home to the LAST of the television superstations (WGN-TV), but it's run as an afterthought. The city and the state should take more of an interest in using it, and other means to promote the city and its unique talent.


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