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WGN Radio Time Slot Shake-Up Messy, Steve Cochran, Milt Rosenberg, Steve and Johnnie In Flux

April 9, 2010

UPDATE….Nov. 12….WGN Fires Management!

The WGN Radio on-air mess continues to stun and mystify the listeners.  You know, the ones who are supposed to be catered to as they are the ones who make the ratings possible, and buy the advertised products.  But to hell with the listeners.  Every few weeks let’s have more shake-ups and changes to just really PO the very listeners they want to attract.  WGN is sliding so fast in the wrong direction one has to wonder if only the shell of a studio will be left when the antics of the current management are finished.

Program Director Kevin Metheny wants to give WGN an edgier sound that would attract a younger 25 to 54-year-old demographic.  The only thing Metheny is achieving is totally messing with a finely tuned engine that was WGN Radio.  He is making a VW into a Yugo. 

So the latest……

(Gary) Meier is switching slots with afternoon drive host Steve Cochran, picking up an extra hour each weekday from Cochran in the trade beginning Friday, as part of a schedule shake-up at Chicago Tribune parent Tribune Co.’s radio station.

Additionally, as of Tuesday, WGN-AM’s John Williams will begin pulling double duty by hosting a two-hour Twin Cities show for CBS Radio’s WCCO-AM from Tribune Tower immediately after his regular 9 a.m.-to-1 p.m. program here ends. Williams spent four years at WCCO before joining WGN-AM full-time in 1997.

Meier’s swap with Cochran, whose contract is set to expire in June, was hardly the only WGN-AM schedule tweak unveiled Thursday, just the biggest.

New weeknight host Jim Laski, (GAG!!! That is my editorial opinion here at CP) the scandal-scarred former Chicago city clerk whose 7 p.m. show makes its debut next week, Cochran in the trade beginning Friday, as part of a schedule shake-up at Chicago Tribune parent Tribune Co.’s radio station.from, picking up an extra hour each weekday

That means Milt Rosenberg’s two-hour Monday-through-Thursday “Extension 720” will begin an hour later, at 10 p.m., and Nick Digilio’s Friday show now will run 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.

Steve King and Johnnie Putman’s overnight show will lose an hour, running now from midnight to 5 a.m.

34 Comments leave one →
  1. Bill permalink
    May 1, 2010 10:06 AM

    Well folks, I agree too, accept I do like Gary and have listened to him since the WLS / Loop days. I’ve also been listening to WGN for my whole life and have listened most in my mid-20’s through now early 40’s. I have to say, Mr. Metheny has really messed things up in my opinion. You can’t blame a guy for taking a chance but WGN had a very powerful formula, family friendly, nice radio personalities that could still be provacative, and huge ad revenues. Granted, the formula had maybe grown a little stale but that doesn’t mean you trash the entire thing or tweak / change endlessly with no end game until you think you get it right. What WGN needed was a couple of slight adjustments and that was it. John was not the right move for mornings, so all they needed to do was move John back but in a way that didn’t seem like punishment. The return to his regular time slot should have been a win-win and promoted as such. Kathy and Judy should not have been canned, they needed a touch-up on the marketing image, which WGN never invested a lot on marketing.

    The big issue was Greg in the mornings. Greg is not a Chicago morning guy. (The other day when Spike called in was like water to a man in the desert for 40-days. Spike has the energy and personality that is hard to match but Metheny should have tried.) You need to have a Chicago personality in the morning and not a Johnny B type or a straight laced Greg type, you need a cut-up Spike type. There has to be someone out there.

    Milt is an institution, messing with him is like moving the Lincoln home in Springfield. While I understand fan loyalty or institutions don’t deliver ad revenue, you still should have loyalty to your institutions. Again, focus on promotion of Milt’s shows or work to get evern more relevant guests. Heck, Milt could probably land a President Obama interview with Milt’s reputation and cache in Chicago. That would get listeners.

    And then, I won’t even talk about the loss of Tommy Waddle in Sports, the loss of Max Armstrong (Orion and Max brought in big ad revenue from Agriculture Companies each year…..WGN should have been maximizing this opportunity not minimizing it and you could still have them on at odd hours as the farmers in 10-states were very loyal listeners.) Nick D. has been used / abused and moved all over…….Steve & Johnny getting shuffled around now…..etc……

    I’d suggest trying to re-instill the old formula that worked so well, keep it fresh and focused on current events, publicize your plans / personalities, get a new morning guy, and give John / Milt / Nick / Steve & Johnny / Steve / Gary / Dave and others the respect they deserve through leading a 50-Watt Powerhouse so successfully for so many years. I’m in your demographic you covet so much, I spend way too much money on everything (your advertisers love me), and I’ve listened for 30+years.

    Thanks for reading……….

  2. Sharon Beaver permalink
    April 29, 2010 5:27 PM

    I’ve listened to WGN almost all my life … in recent years I’ve enjoyed Bob Collins, Kathy & Judy, Bob Sirrott, Steve Cochran … but sadly WGN has dumped most of them, and has put Cochran into a time slot when I am at work. Their replacements are utterly boring! Gary Meier is as exciting as a bad case of flu (wants to make you throw up), and nearly a monotone when he speaks. He’s the only person I’ve heard that make the word, “WOW” sound utterly boring. If I turn the radio on and hear either Jim Laski or Nick Digillio, I immediately change the station. I can’t remember the morning guy’s name (that’s how boring he is) but I no longer listen to WGN in the morning either. I can’t believe they are trying to get “edgier” … they’ve gotten rid of the edgier talent and replaced them with a group of terrible radio hosts that are either deadly boring or downright irritating.

    Sadly, my radio is no long tuned to WGN, and I scan up and down the dial looking for something else, and usually wind up with an FM station.

  3. Donna Jarrett permalink
    April 29, 2010 11:38 AM

    I have just read all of the above comments and couldn’t agree more. What has happened to our beloved WGN an icone in Chgo. But certainly not any more. To bad someone doesn’t care about all of us long time listeners that are dedinately gone.

  4. Char Gallagher permalink
    April 28, 2010 12:34 PM

    I cannot believe the changes. I miss Steve & Johnnie at 11PM. I miss Steve Cochron on my drive home & Milt & Nick in their old time slots. Why must we have this Laski guy? You have lost me as a listener if the time slots don’t go back to the way they were. I will go to another station during Laski’s time slot. He is not worth listening to. I hope asll of the Chicagoland listening area does the same. You are screwing up a great radio station. Bob Collins was right years ago when he said management doesn’t know what they are doing. They do not listen to the public who listen to wgn radio. Your ratings are really going to slip now. Sorry for your loss.

  5. Max Maxell permalink
    April 26, 2010 1:01 PM

    I could not agree more with all of the comments above. I can’t listen to Greg in the mornings. I tried, I can’t so it’s over to NPR. Was a “girlfriend” but those days are gone. I like Gary but let’s face it. He’s the Dean Martin to someone’s Jerry Lewis and solo for the afternoon drive? Cochrane is the most talented person on the station (though there are many including John) and to take him out of the afternoon drive?? What planet are they on? I would follow his show anywhere so I only hope when he’s had enough of the BS when his extension is up in June that he ends up somewhere that is powerful enough to broadcast to Dekalb. Or at least is on line. What a train wreck.

  6. Frank Mueller permalink
    April 23, 2010 9:13 AM

    I agree 100% with the previous comments. I moved to the Atlanta area a little more than a year ago. I was an avid WGN listener for more than 30 years. I would tune in to WGN radio on my computer to hear all of my favorite programs since moving south. However since the programming changes began, I find the quality has deteriorated to the point of becoming miserable. How can this Jim Laski keep an on air program? How could WGN shorten Milt Rosenberg’s nightly show to give more time to such senseless drivel. From the dumping of Kathy and Judy, whose show I came to thoroughly enjoy, dumping Wes Bleed, screwing with the very talented Steve Cochran, I could go on and on; but find my blood pressure rising…
    Suffice to say I am now one of a growing number of FORMER WGN LISTENERS. Unfortunately, I feel the new management at WGN couldn’t care less. I hope wakes up before it is too late for WGN radio.

  7. Tom permalink
    April 16, 2010 3:32 PM

    This guy Metheny must have not ever worked at a real radio station.
    WGN has been based on (the older listeners)DAH, because maybe because they have some expendabile income. The money used to draw in lots of advertising dollors. OK Mr. Smarty pants Metheny, let’s see you get back all that advertising money with products like AXE hair spray and maybe some condom commercials. WHAT AN IDIOt!

  8. larry smith permalink
    April 16, 2010 2:18 AM

    one of the few pleasures working nights affords(besides a traffic free commute!)is enjoying what is probably the last forum of civilized ,erudite and interesting conversation left on the radio.I’m of course speaking of Milt Rosenbergs”Extension 720″ .Instead we now have Jim Laski (big ditto on the GAG) who treated us tonite with the topic of whether calorie counts should be required on fast food signs.not a bad topic had he stayed on it;however the show quickly slid into over an hour of “what’s your favorite junk food”.As we strolled down memory lane(white castles at 3am when drunk, ect.)we were treated to Jims various enthusiasms”Oh! you like dos too!” “dem are goood!”Included was a contest to guess the calorie count of a 20 pc Chicken McNugget;the prize being a Lou malnatti’s pizza!It’s really too bad that a gem like Milt has to take a back seat to this twaddle.why don’t they switch Milt with Jim;that way Laski’s morons can enjoy him while going thru the late nite drive in window!

  9. john sagan permalink
    April 15, 2010 11:36 AM

    It is so sad that a Chicago legend, Milt Rosenberg, is relagated to a 10 pm time slot. With the smartest and most entertaining show on WGN, by far, he will loose his audience to bed time and the WGN honchos will never know what they have allowed to disappear.

  10. Mary Floor permalink
    April 15, 2010 10:29 AM

    I was one of the long-time WGN fans that had my radio tuned in 24/7. I now only tune to WGN for Steve and Johnnie (if I’m awake since they start an hour later now, and Milt can put one to sleep when he gets too repetitive with his topics) or the Cubs and Blackhawks. I refuse to listen to Jim Laski, and I can barely stand some of the other people they are featuring in their prime time slots. I know that many of my friends feel the same as I do. It’s like a train wreck, but instead of cleaning up the mess, they just keep crashing more boxcars into the wreckage.

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