Grisko | WBEZ Chicago

WBEZ Chicago

Public Radio – Reenergized

The 50th anniversary of the Public Broadcasting Act arrived the same year as the term “fake news.” WBEZ Chicago – a national leader in public radio and premier local news organization – found itself providing fact-based journalism to an audience that does not always agree on the facts.

As other newsrooms were shrinking and media outlets struggling to stay solvent, WBEZ knew journalism remained essential to keeping our democratic institutions intact and contributing to healthy civic society.

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The Challenge

As focus turned to non-profit journalism to strengthen the fourth estate, WBEZ was succeeding by many measures, but not fully achieving recognition as a premiere local news organization and civic asset. Confident in its successful membership-based business model, WBEZ created a robust three-year strategic plan incorporating its evolution from broadcast radio to digital news and entertainment hub. WBEZ needed a communications agency that would effectively craft and share its story, raise awareness of its newsroom expansion and showcase its commitment to original content.

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Our Solution

Grisko collaborated closely with WBEZ to create and implement a highly effective strategic communications plan that:

  • Increased awareness of WBEZ’s quality investigative journalism and civic engagement
  • Promoted the station’s digital platforms and their unique content
  • Elevated WBEZ CEO Goli Sheikholeslami’s reputation as a thought leader in the industry

Our comprehensive plan included message development, thought leadership, digital strategy, targeted media plans and outreach, monitoring and measurement recommendations, as well as guidelines for partnerships, communications materials, events and programming.

chicago public media public relations affairs goli sheikholeslami
chicago public media public relations affairs goli sheikholeslami

In the first year of our engagement with WBEZ, Grisko placed nearly 150 articles that resulted in more than 200 million impressions across reputable national, local and trade outlets, including: USA Today, New York Times, TIME, Vice Magazine, Chicago Business Journal, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Magazine, Nieman and Current Magazine.

Leveraging Grisko’s relationships, we were also able to secure impactful thought leadership and speaking opportunities for WBEZ leadership at prominent civic organizations.

Grisko continues to serve as WBEZ’s agency of record, providing strategic counsel and comprehensive public relations services.

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In a complex post-election media landscape, our vision of growth at WBEZ was crystal clear. We needed a communications agency to elevate our profile and support our goals as we rolled out new content and platforms. Grisko’s guidance in shaping and promoting WBEZ’s narrative has been invaluable.

Goli Sheikholeslami, CEO, Chicago Public Media/WBEZ Chicago

Mayor Lori Lightfoot


Economic Impact Payments Project

Echoes & Reflections

American Heart Association


Commonwealth LNG

Loop Link

Police Accountability Task Force

Chicago Police Memorial Foundation

The Field Museum