Lewis Lazare on new "Monsters & Money" set; WKSC contracts; Glenn Beck; WBEZ

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Posted by Bud on December 22, 2009 at 10:02:47:

1 foot is a big deal for Ch. 2 morning show set

December 22, 2009
BY LEWIS LAZARE llazare@suntimes.com

When WBBM-Channel 2 General Manager Bruno Cohen said this month he wanted to do an early morning show unlike any other on local television, he wasn't kidding.

Set to debut Feb. 1, that show, "Monsters & Money in the Morning," will feature an "ensemble" of broadcasters, including Sun-Times contributors Mike North and Dan Jiggetts, Sun-Times financial columnist Terry Savage and Mike Hegedus.

To help ensure "Monsters and Money" doesn't look like any other local early morning show, Cohen has called in New York-based designer George Allison to develop a unique set for "Monsters & Money." With an extensive resume in TV set design, Allison has worked with a number of talents ranging from the very edgy Don Imus to the more uptight George Stephanopolous, for whom he designed the set for ABC's Sunday morning news and issues show "This Week With George Stephanopolous."

Designing a TV show set that very much wants to be seen as different is no snap job. Just ask Allison. He has already made two trips to Chicago to discuss the show concept, meet most of the on-air talent and test different sizes of a round table at which the ensemble will sit -- one 7 feet in diameter and another 6 feet. That may seem a small difference to some, but not Allison. "The table's diameter has everything to do with how the hosts relate to each other and what kind of camera angles we can use," said Allison. After testing both options in the WBBM studio last week, Allison and Cohen opted for a 7-foot table.

Next up is the equally tricky -- and important -- task of deciding what material(s) will be used to build the table. "The only thing we're ruling out right now is marble," said Cohen, with tongue firmly in cheek.

Explained Allison, who hopes to have decided on several options to present to Cohen by around Jan. 1,"You have to be aware of what kind of materials will work best with the lighting and project an aura in sync with what the show is trying to be." Decisions will then have to be made quickly, because Chicago Scenic Studios needs to construct the table and have it ready at least a week before "Monsters & Money" debuts.

Beck joins WIND lineup
Nationally syndicated radio host Glenn Beck will be heard in Chicago on news/talk WIND-AM (560) beginning Jan. 4. The Beck show will air from 9 to 11 a.m. With the addition of Beck to the WIND lineup, Dennis Miller will move to the 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. time slot.

Deals for Drex co-hosts
Clear Channel Radio Chicago's top 40 WKSC-FM (103.5) has inked new multi-year deals with Mel T and Angi Taylor, co-hosts of "Drex in the Morning." No surprise that Clear Channel would want to keep intact this popular radio team that includes principal host Kevin "Drex" Buchar. The program was third in Arbitron's November ratings among 18 to 34, its target demo.

New bureau for WBEZ
Chicago public radio station WBEZ-FM (91.5) hopes to open a fourth bureau in Rogers Park by winter's end. The one-person bureau's primary focus will be long-form stories about Asian-American issues. WBEZ has bureaus in Chesterton, Ind., and on Chicago's South and West sides. CEO Torey Malatia also hopes to open two more in the suburbs.

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