Ladies and gentlemen, the mission has been accomplished.
In a move being considered a game changer in Chicago radio, former WLUP radio personality Jonathan Brandmeier signed a deal with Tribune Broadcasting’s WGN-AM to take over the coveted morning drive time slot replacing Greg Jarrett, whose contact isn’t being renewed.
Brandmeier takes over the 5:30 a.m.-9 a.m. slot beginning on Friday (December 9). Specifics of the deal weren’t available.
Brandmeier takes over a time slot on a radio station that was occupied by the likes of Wally Phillips, Bob Collins, and Spike O’Dell – ratings winners and legends in the business (okay, I’m kind of stretching it a bit with O’Dell. Brandmeier’s arrival at WGN Radio (at age 55) would lower the median age of a station long associated with the 65+ demo. WGN could potentially attract more advertiser revenue as a result.
Brandmeier is a Chicago radio legend in his own right- the Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin native arrived at WLUP in early 1983 as morning personality and his rebel-type style type of radio won over the market’s young adult audience. By 1994 however, Brandmeier was moved to an afternoon drive-time slot and did his show from Los Angeles. In 1997, the still based-in-L.A Brandmeier jumped to Infinity Radio’s (now CBS-owned) KLSX-FM, while simultaneously holding down a shift at sister station WCKG (now WCFS.)
Brandmeier returned to Chicago and performed his second tour of duty with WLUP in 2005 once again as morning personality, but was unable to generate the same kind of success he did before. Brandmeier left the station in late 2009 due to a falling out with then-owner Emmis Communications.
Since then, Brandmeier has been dabbling in other projects – including television work for NBC-owned WMAQ, with an Almost Live TV special in 2009 and the tryout of his new ten episode series Brandmeier, which primarily airs on WMAQ’s Chicago Non-Stop digital subchannel. It is not known if his WGN deal will have any impact on Brandmeier continuing, since WGN Radio is a sister station to rival WGN-TV and Chicago Non-Stop is planning an NBC-mandated overhaul, which would include less local programming.
With Brandmeier’s arrival, several other changes were made as well – on air and off:
– Bill Leff takes over the midnight-5:30a.m. shift on WGN beginning December 12, replacing Steve King and Johnnie Putman, who are both leaving the station.
– Mike McConnell’s morning show was reduced from four hours to three, now running from 9 a.m. to Noon.
– Afternoon host John Williams gains a half hour, starting at noon instead of 12:30 pm.
– News anchor Steve Bertand moves to mornings to be on Brandmeier’s show, while Jim Gudas assumes the same duties middays and afternoons.
– And you can forget a reunion between Brandmier and former producer Jimmy Wiser – he was cut from the station, along with Jarrett. Wiser was a producer for Brandmeier’s show during his 1980’s Loop heyday.
WGN Radio’s moves are being made to erase the stench created during the Pig Virus-Court Jester era which brought in McConnell, Jarrett, and the very experienced Jim “don’t drop the soap” Laski as WGN Radio GM Tom Langmeyer. has been working hard to bring back alienated listeners. Hiring Brandmeier is part of a plan to broaden the station’s audience profile – earlier this past week, the station hired Chicago Blackhawks player Dan Carcillo to host an one-hour weekly music intensive show to air after weekend Hawks games.
Brandmeier’s move to WGN Radio was first reported by Time Out Chicago’s Robert Feder on Twitter.