Whoopi’s out; Forman’s in

Clear Channel-owned WLIT-FM (The Lite) in Chicago has axed Whoopi Goldberg’s poorly-rated syndicated morning show and has reinstated Melissa Forman as morning personality.

Since August 2006, when Melissa Forman was replaced by Whoopi, the morning drive ratings dropped like a rock. Among adults 25-54, the daypart went from 11th place with Forman to 19th place with Goldberg. Forman was let go from WLIT, but returned to the station earlier this year to do afternoons.

Forman will now do mornings from 5:30 a.m. to 8:30, but the afternoon shift she does will now be voice-tracked.

Fans of Whoopi (if any), don’t fret – she’s still on The View on ABC weekday mornings and her syndicated radio morning show will continue. However, with the loss of Chicago, she has only a dozen affiliates remaining – not a good sign.

Analysis: For once, the egg is on Clear Channel’s face. Management finally fessed up and made a mistake with Forman. One of the reasons why Chicago radio is in such shambles is because of a over-reliance of voice-tracking and overuse of syndication, and Clear Channel is the worse offender. Instead of hiring an afternoon personality, they decided to voice track Melissa Forman in that daypart. Not a smart move (after all, this is Clear Channel we’re talking about.)

WLIT’s ratings are terrible and it’s pitiful that the station has to rely on repetitive Christmas music in the fourth quarter to skew the book. Enough with Delilah and the Flashback Weekends, they both suck.

Why did WLIT play Ice, Ice, Baby from Vanilla Ice and You Can’t Touch This from M.C. Hammer on a Flashback Weekend last year? WLIT didn’t dare touch this when those records were burning up Top 40 charts back in the day. So why now? Did it ever occur to them their target audience doesn’t like rap music? No wonder the Adult Contemporary format is steadily going downhill on terrestrial radio (Look at what happened to WLTW-FM in New York, which recently fell out of the number one spot.) If you want a real Adult Contemporary station, listen to The Heart or The Blend on XM, or through AOL.com.

Meanwhile, ratings came out this week showing Steve Harvey failing to match his local predecessor in the morning daypart. It’s time for executives at Clear Channel to also admit they made a mistake regarding WGCI as well. But it’s not likely. Admitting a mistake twice in the same century? Forget it.

Clear Channel is to radio what Bill Wirtz was to the Blackhawks – they won’t spend anything to improve their operations and always looking to cut corners to save money. As a result, the performance of the product suffers, the fans get pissed off, and they leave for other choices. How many people were at the Hawks game the other night? 8,000? Most of them were probably WLIT listeners.

Now that Whoopi has been replaced, it’s time for local Clear Channel radio executives to be replaced as well before “The Lite” gets turned off for good. But don’t be surprised if that happens. Clear Channel wants to cut corners on its electric bill, too.

(P.S. – I apologize for the misspelling of Ms. Forman’s name in the post that showed up here earlier. – T.H.)

updated at 6:00 p.m. on 2007-10-19