Getting the point across about cross-ownership


It’s easy to find someone to attack newspaper/broadcast media combinations; not quite so easy to find a reasoned defense. Yet the Second Circuit itself made the case for them in part even as it was shooting down much of the FCC’s 2003 ownership rulemaking. Tribune’s Tom Langmyer, who works for a rare cross-ownership group including radio, television and newspaper, says the combination allows for a degree of localism that would otherwise be impossible to achieve. Here are his comments, prepared for delivery at last week’s FCC ownership forum in Chicago.

Good evening, I’m Tom Langmyer, vice president and general manager of the Tribune Company’s WGN Radio here in Chicago.  I have been with the station for two years; yet have spent nearly 30 years in the field of radio broadcasting.  From the time I was a child, I wanted to work in radio because radio was about localism and the honor of providing service to the community.

 As I stand here today, I’m proud to lead a Chicago station that still delivers live, local radio, 24-hours a day, seven days a week — with all LOCAL program hosts, a fully-staffed news department, remote broadcasts from Chicago area communities, traffic, weather and information. 

Our mission is to provide a hometown connection with familiar voices that listeners know and trust.  WGN is a "REAL" radio station, with live unique and originally produced programming.  But if you’d rather not take my word for it, turn on WGN, at 720 AM, and just listen to the station and you be the judge.
Tribune Company owns the Chicago Tribune newspaper, WGN-TV, CLTV and WGN Radio.  In 1924, the company was licensed to bring WGN Radio to the airwaves to provide a new service to the community.

Today, competing with so many choices and technologies, other radio stations, Internet radio, iPods and satellite radio, WGN remains a vital service after 83 years through LOCALISM and community involvement.  Our longtime connection with the Chicago Tribune has allowed us to share resources so that we may continue to be one of only a handful of so called "full-service" radio stations in the country today.
We know that being licensed gives us the privilege and responsibility to serve our community.  And here are just a few services Tribune Company accomplishes through WGN Radio….

Almost 40 years old, the WGN Radio Neediest Kids Fund was created to serve needy children and youth in our community.  It became a fund of the McCormick Tribune Foundation in 1992 for further strength, and has granted more than $16 million to local non-profit agencies.  The Foundation, established in 1955 from the charitable trust of Chicago Tribune publisher and owner Colonel Robert McCormick, matches funds raised by the WGN Radio Neediest Kids Fund at 50%.  Because the Foundation and WGN pick up all administrative and fundraising costs, all the funds raised go directly towards helping the needy in our community.

 The Foundation’s Communities Program also partners with Tribune newspapers and the company’s TV stations around the country.  And, since 1991, the program has granted more than $700 Million in 30 cities across the country.

This year, the WGN Radio Neediest Kids Fund raised and distributed a total of  $500,000 in grants for Childhood Hunger and Youth Programs to 28 agencies throughout Chicago.

WGN Radio supports causes that celebrate diversity in the media.  For example, WGN Radio’s Neediest Kids Fund has raised money with the McCormick Tribune Foundation over the past 9 years to grant nearly $300,000 to help support Radio Arte, 90.5 FM, a youth radio broadcasting training program operated by the National Museum of Mexican Art.

WGN Radio is a go-to source for Chicagoans looking for local information.  WGN Radio’s Emergency Closing Center is the ONLY service of its kind here, gathering and broadcasting information from schools, businesses and organizations when they have to close due to weather and other emergencies.  We put it on-line as well for anyone who needs it.

It is important to note that WGN does not air any program-length network syndication, no voice tracking.  We’re LIVE and LOCAL.

WGN Radio’s 24/7 news coverage is strengthened and expanded by our unique position within Tribune Co.  As I mentioned earlier, our relationship with the Chicago Tribune allows us to share newsgathering resources that literally bring the world to our listeners.  Foreign correspondents for the Tribune frequently appear on WGN Radio.  A perfect example was when embedded Tribune correspondents appeared "live" from the deserts of Iraq.  These were first hand accounts, with LOCAL angles that went well beyond the national reports from our network, ABC.

Tribune reporters supplement our local coverage as well… and in Springfield.  Our news desks are in regular contact, making the station stronger than it could be on its own, and helping us use the broadcast medium-which is both FREE and universal – to greater advantage.

Strong programming and a commitment to localism is the ONLY way in our minds that an AM station can be successful.  The Tribune Company, with its longtime dedication to news and community service, has made a sustained commitment to supporting a radio station like this.  If WGN were sold because an FCC rule required it, WGN would most likely end up no longer being a stand-alone station– instead falling into the hands of a multi-station conglomerate.  It would be programmed out of a distant headquarters office and would likely lose its distinctiveness, local identity and historic appeal.  Is this good for the public?  We don’t think so, and we can’t imagine the government would think so either. 

WGN Radio – LIVE . . .LOCAL . . . connected to the community – AND strengthened for the community by its historic ties to Tribune Company.
Thank you.