WGN Radio Soon To Be News Free?
It is almost impossible to hear more than two sentences for any news story when listening to WGN radio. They almost never report foreign news, or even the latest Congressional fights that impact our lives. WGN radio is not only almost free of news, but doing everything possible to make it even more so.
Odd that a talk station would find the news too (fill in the blank) when many of the topics discussed are……news stories!
With the layoff of award-winning Chicago radio veteran Jim Gudas as midday news anchor last week, news/talk WGN-AM (720) is becoming less “news” and more “talk” than ever.
Bill White, director of programming and news at the Tribune Co.-owned station, said the move was made solely for financial reasons. Gudas will not be replaced, and his duties have been divided among others in WGN’s dwindling news department.
White added the news title to his programming role after the station chose not to replace Charlie Meyerson, who exited as news director last June. Rob Hart, a news anchor and reporter, also was not replaced when he quit last July to join Meyerson at Merlin Media all-news WIQI-FM (101.1).
The elimination of three positions in less than a year leaves WGN with just four full-time news employees — anchors Judy Pielach (who carries the additional title of “newsroom coordinator”), Steve Bertrand, Andrea Darlas and Paula Cooper. Weekends are handled by part-timers.
With no one to cover City Hall (Dave Stewart was cut in 2010), cops and firemen (Larry Schreiner’s been gone since 2005) or any other beats, WGN has to rely increasingly on reporters for the Chicago Tribune or WGN-Channel 9 whenever news breaks. The company also dropped its affiliations with ABC News and the Associated Press.
For a station that once was a radio news leader, WGN hardly seems competitive with CBS Radio all-news WBBM-AM (780), which also simulcasts on WCFS-FM (105.9), or with Chicago Public Media WBEZ-FM (91.5). The elimination of Gudas’s position is one more step in the wrong direction.