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Kathy And Judy, Former WGN Radio Stars, Fight Back Against Kevin “Pig Virus” Metheny

June 24, 2010

Update….Nov. 12…WGN Fires Management!

Hat Tip to Ferrell Gummitt 

I am so very proud of Kathy and Judy, the ladies who had made WGN mornings fun.  As listeners to the once great Chicago radio station know, Kathy and Judy were unceremoniously replaced so that the failed management at the station could have less stellar on-air talent.  Now that same management is talking trash about how they left the station.  And the ladies are doing what they did do very well on-the-air.  Kathy and Judy are communicating in clear and concise language.  WGN radio management is fill of crap.  

What set them off were comments made Tuesday by their former boss, Kevin “Pig Virus” Metheny, program director of Tribune Co.-owned news/talk WGN-AM (720). Appearing on Garry Meier’s afternoon show (here is the link to the audio), Metheny took calls from listeners, including one who asked about the ouster of Kathy & Judy in May 2009 after a highly successful 20-year run as WGN’s midday duo.  

When the caller said she was “one of the many people who were upset when [Kathy & Judy] were released,” Metheny corrected her, saying: 

“You may want to get that straight. What they did was retire. They retired of their own volition. They gave us that notification, and then at that point, after they decided they didn’t want to continue any longer, we did control the timing of it, but we didn’t show them the door unceremoniously and, as I’ve often been accused of, we didn’t give them the word that morning. . . . That was actually how they chose to portray it. They knew quite a while in advance actually, and the manner in which you learned it — and the timing at which you learned it — was not WGN’s decision.” 

Metheny’s response implied that O’Malley and Markey misled their listeners when they said it was not their decision to leave — with more than a year to go on their contracts. It also contradicted the official announcement by Tribune Co. that WGN was “discontinuing the ‘Kathy & Judy Show.’ ” In the station’s own press release dated May 22, 2009 (here is the link), Tom Langmyer, vice president and general manager, was quoted as saying: “This was a business decision,” and “This is the time to move in a new direction.” 

After keeping quiet about all that had happened behind the scenes (and continuing to collect their paychecks for the past year), O’Malley and Markey finally took the gloves off Thursday. In a joint statement, the duo wrote: 

“Yesterday, Kevin Metheny said on the Garry Meier Show that it was our choice to leave our show and WGN in May of 2009. It was not our choice, and we want that to be clear. Over 20 years on the air, we established a bond of trust with our radio girlfriends that we all valued. We never lied to them about the circumstances of our leaving, and we’re just tired of hearing that it was our idea. It wasn’t.” 

In our follow-up conversation, they said it was clear the station had been trying to force them to quit for months leading up to the cancellation. When they refused to quit despite the unceasing pressure, management approached them with a buyout offer and dictated both the date and the terms of their departure: 

  • Said O’Malley: “WGN chose to end our show. WGN chose the date that it would end. And WGN told us we could not say anything to anybody about the show being canceled until May 22 — the last day of our show.”
  • Said Markey: “In fact, they had us making an appearance for the station [on May 19] — 72 hours before the day they told us we had to be out of there.”
  • Said O’Malley: “And that’s how they chose the date. They chose the date because it was three days after we had agreed to make an appearance for Best Buy. It was a huge Tribune/WGN advertising deal. They wanted us to leave on May 22. When they told us the show was over, WGN wanted us to say that it was our idea. And we rejected that.”

Perhaps most galling of all, they said, was a suggestion by Langmyer that they play up their exit as a celebration. Recalled Markey: “Tom said, ‘How ’bout we take that last week and you guys do a victory lap — like “The Best of Kathy & Judy”? And Kathy told him: ‘Tom, you’re f—-ing firing us. We’re not taking a victory lap — and we’re not pretending this was our idea.’ Our egos did not require a week of self-serving radio history.” 

If Kathy & Judy had had their way, they would have worked through the last day of their contract and been allowed to retire with the dignity and respect they’d richly earned over their two decades at WGN. Their last show would have been a week from this Friday. 

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12 Comments leave one →
  1. BECKY HAWKINSON permalink
    January 25, 2011 2:43 PM

    I ALSO HAVE TURNED WGN OFF AFTER KATHY AND JUDY LEFT!! OBVIOUSLY WGN HAS BECOME A STATION FOR MEN AND SPORTS. I ENJOYED KATHY AND JUDY HERE AT WORK AND IT ALWAYS BRIGHTENED MY DAY NOW I HAVEN MIKE OCONNEL OR HOW EVER YOU SPELL IT AND HE IS AN IDIOT!! I THINK ALL THOSE WHO LEFT WGN SHOULD START THEIR OWN STATION IN CHICAGO AND WGN WOULD BE OUT OF BUSINESS SOONER THEN LATER.

  2. Karen permalink
    August 13, 2010 3:38 PM

    I don’t listen to WGN anymore. The management has destroyed a good station. All my favorites are gone except John Williams. I used to feel like we new the announcers personally. That is no longer true. In my opinion it’s the managment that should be fired

  3. Kathleen permalink
    July 11, 2010 6:10 PM

    I used to have WGN radio on from early morning until early evening. Not any more! Losing Kathy and Judy started the decline. John Williams is the only one I listen to any more and there are rumors about him leaving when his contract is up. WGN is only a shadow of what it once was and that is a real shame. Someday colleges will use this as an example of how NOT to manage a business.

  4. Aldyth permalink
    July 9, 2010 1:40 PM

    I’ve been deeply disappointed by the changes at WGN radio. Judy and Kathy’s departure was the first offense. While I realize that things change in the news and entertainment industry, they aren’t supposed to change backwards. Apparently, women aren’t good enough to be show hosts at WGN under the new regime.

    I wonder what shlock will replace Steve Cochran?

    Any time of the day or night, I could turn on WGN and find out what was happening in the world with intelligent comment to go with it. That is disappearing from the station. Milt, Orion, Steve, Johnnie, and all the rest had better get ready for the bum’s rush.

    I’ll be tuning my radio elsewhere.

  5. julie permalink
    July 6, 2010 6:21 PM

    I am so sad that the classy WGN that my mom turned me on to many years ago is gone. After 1 pm the radio goes off unless the Cubs are on- then off till 11 pm GET RID of the Professor if anything. He is such a hardheaded one sided person who is NOT interesting. Wally Philips must be rolling in his grave and at one time the Roy Leonards of the world were representative of the station. SOOOOO SADDDDD !!!!!
    I feel like a good friend passed away

  6. Beth Galfer permalink
    July 4, 2010 9:09 AM

    I have now completely stopped listening to WGN radio. It is not the radio station that I loved for over 30 years. This new management team has nailed the coffin shut for what used to be a uniquely entertaining, news worthy, and moderate Chicago icon. I often wonder what Orion Samuelson thinks….or are they just waiting for him to “retire” too.

  7. Marie Kandyba permalink
    July 4, 2010 8:16 AM

    I too, am just plain mad. I feel for Steve Bertrand and Garry M and Nick D and Steve and Johnie, maybe they can start their own station with all the others before them, then I’ll listen once again.

  8. June 28, 2010 3:55 PM

    Today, at 1 pm, after the John Williams show, I turned off all the radios (4), in my home and studio and turned on day time TV. Jim Laski would be on and I cannot tolerate his droning on and on about the same old topics. I have been a loyal WGN listener, buying products and services, but no more for many of the personalities. The management has committed financial suicide. We, the loyal listeners felt that WGN was “home” to us and millions like us and we could trust that the great programming would never vanish. Too bad for those left behind, the early Sunday morning crews; Garry, John Williams & Steve Bertram who was great as the morning news guy and is now relegated to late afternoons. Sorry, guys, get your resumes updated for the ax may be coming to you when you least expect it. Goodby but not forgotten, Steve Cochran. Goodby, WGN your funeral begins.

  9. Daphne permalink
    June 26, 2010 8:33 AM

    Kathy and Judy were great and the laugh is on WGN and their right wing tilt. They had a great thing going that listeners could tune into, and the girlfriends were accomodating of all views even though they were not shy about where they stood on issues. We are now down to listening only to Dean Richards and Lou Manfredini on WGN. Good for the girls collecting their paychecks! Too bad for all of us who have little to choose from on AM radio. Thank Goodness for WFMT. Where all the girlfirends now? They were a breath of fresh air in our problem ridden, bad news world. Can you imagine what discussions there would have been if Kathy and Judy were still on the air concerning the oil spill, gridlock in Congress, etc.? We were robbed, and ingloriously so!

  10. Ferrell Gummitt permalink
    June 25, 2010 4:33 PM

    The “Pig Virus” strikes again. Fires Steve Cochran:

    http://blogs.vocalo.org/feder/2010/06/wgn-pulls-the-plug-on-10-year-veteran-steve-cochran/27701

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