When we are in Chicago there is always one place we stop and look at when on Michigan Avenue. That is the most remarkable showcase studio of WGN radio.
There’s no use getting upset about WGN-AM (720) selling the naming rights to its Michigan Avenue Showcase Studio after more than 25 years in operation, but still . . .
When the street-level broadcast center at the southwest corner of Tribune Tower officially becomes known as the Allstate Showcase Studio on May 1, it will mark one more encroachment of commerce on a familiar Chicago fixture.
“It was important for us to find the right partner for this iconic part of Chicago’s landscape,” Tom Langmyer, vice president and general manager of the Tribune Co.-owned news/talk station, told staffers in a memo. “We’re thrilled to have a respected Chicagoland-headquartered institution to share in our commitment to our hometown.”
What’s more thrilling for WGN has to be the revenue (as yet undisclosed) attached to the multiyear sponsorship deal. The station is coming off another tough year — 2011 billing was down more than $3 million — and its parent company is still mired in the longest-running bankruptcy on record. So a little extra cash comes in handy.
Radio has been in especially good hands with Allstate Insurance Co., which more than doubled its ad spending last year to $138 million, according to Inside Radio. In addition to securing naming rights to the studios of WGN and sports/talk WFAN-AM in New York, the company also replaced Jewel-Osco as exclusive sponsor of WGN’s Hometown Voices Tour of suburban remote broadcasts.
It’s not clear how much signage will be visible to passersby at 435 North Michigan Avenue, since the station says only that the sponsorship will include “an interior studio wrap featuring WGN Radio and Allstate graphics and on-air naming recognition.” Because Tribune Tower is an official city landmark, any changes to the building’s exterior would require review by the city’s landmarks commission.