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WGN Radio Can Again Be Polite, Professional, Popular

November 13, 2010

Every now and then when I write this blog I am reminded that my interests are not exactly in the mainstream.   I am reminded weekly how marginalized some of my concerns and interests are.  That never stops me from going forward mind you, but the fact is not lost on me that I am not always sailing with much of the world.

I fully understand my limitations when writing about the days when newspapers were read by a large swath of the nation, or Saturday nights meant listening to the Grand Ole Opry.  I am aware that the best I can do is stress their value and move on.  It would be great if I could let every household experience the sound of the newspaper ‘thumping’ on the front stoop early every morning, or the sensation of pleasure as the big red curtain rises.  But the best I can do  from this blog is write about them.

But then there are issues such as WGN radio, where my desire to see the traditional role of the medium continue in this era of fast-paced technology, that reverberates with others.  My views about WGN have connected and resonated with many all over the country.  It is times like this I know there are countless who stand with me.  And I with them.

The past eighteen months have been rough ones for those who love WGN, that iconic radio station housed in the Tribune Tower.  Listeners revolted when new management ripped treasured on-air talent from the airwaves and ushered in loud political brawlers, or those who had no sense of what Chicago was all about.

Listeners had every right to feel that way.

Radio is after all about broadcasters being invited into the homes and cars of listeners.  People would no more want a boorish person lounging on their couch as they would desire a long-winded or rude person coming in through the speakers of their radio.  After all, radio personalities are guests, and should act accordingly.

I have worked in radio, and so I know I am correct when I say that guys like me were invited into the homes and cars of listeners.  I was the guest for a period of time, and acted liked one.  I was never rude or mean.  I tried to be funny and informative and friendly.  As such I was invited back over and over.  As were those who shared the microphone with me at WDOR in Sturgeon Bay.

That is what WGN once was, and I trust after the news this week will be again.  Listeners from some thirty states who can hear the station on the AM dial late at night, or those from the midwest who can listen 24/7 want to have a station again that is like what Wally Phillips would recognize.  Polite, professional, popular.

When James and I visit Chicago we always stay overnight on Ohio Street and make the magnificent mile our home base.  Late night walks up the amazing street means stopping in front of the Tribune Tower, and looking into the showcase studio.  At times on-air talent were there, other times they were broadcasting from inside the building.  Either way it was always a connection to the friendly voices on the radio.

For the past months the fond connection with WGN dwindled for me and much of the listener base.  But we have not forgotten what it once was like.  As such we are looking forward to the WGN family being restored  and renewed. 

My radio awaits the rebirth of this broadcasting giant.

3 Comments
  1. Tom Shaughnessy permalink
    November 15, 2010 9:19 AM

    WGN doesn’t get it. The on air personalities from, Greg J. and Mike (whatever his last name is) have a sound to their voices like they are always angry. Rarely do they talk about good things that happen but prefer to pound on the bad side of life and all those who may have problems in this time and day. What ever happened to the listeners and what we prefer to hear. GET SOME LOCAL TALENT and stop bringing in people from everywhere else who have no knowledge of the Great City Of Chicago. Send the present on air people back to where they came from. Gary M. in the afternoon is starting to get better but why does he need a side kick to belittle?

  2. IRV permalink
    November 13, 2010 10:11 PM

    I’m with ya brother.

    I just have to hope WGN management can get us closer to the radio home we all enjoyed for all those many years.

  3. November 13, 2010 6:47 PM

    Just a fantastic post here. Glad WGN is back on track. It wasn’t my station growing up, but I know it’s been special to many.
    Just a radio tale that happened today: I was talking w. my boyfriend and he said, “Hey. Here’s a low power radio transmitter” while looking at a catalog. It’s a couple hundred bucks, legal, and only wld broadcast to the apt. buildings in the neighborhood- so to about 250-400 people. But I immediately wanted one. And then we talked about how we always have thought radio was absolutely wonderful and always wanted to have our own station. We’ve got the net now, and other flashy distractions, but I’ll always adore plain old good radio.

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