Bob Sirott, Marianne Murciano out at WGN

Marianne-Murciano-and-Bob-Sirott-300x225The married duo exits amid a programming squeeze

WGN Radio’s early afternoon husband-and-wife team of Bob Sirott and Marriane Murciano were squeezed out of their slot amid programming changes the Tribune-owned station announced Wednesday, resulting in the exit of the duo after just two years.

The pair’s final show is Friday.

The change is being made to accommodate the expansion of two shows, effective Sept. 8: The Steve Cochran Show, which now is extended to 10 a.m., and Bill Leff and Wendy Snyder’s program, which runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., with a lunch break at noon for an hour-long business show hosted by a local bank.

The moves comes as WGN Radio’s ratings are respectable – even without Cubs baseball, which was on the station for 90 years before their move to WBBM-AM this year. In the recent PPM survey, WGN was tied for fifth place with urban contemporary WGCI-FM in overall numbers and was flat from the previous month. Keep in mind however, WGN generally skews older and is ranked much lower in the key 25-54 demos.

Despite considerable criticism from Internet board posters, Steve Cochran stunned everyone by finishing first in morning drive last month in overall numbers, according to the Chicago Tribune. Bill and Wendy finished fourth.

On the other hand, Sirott and Murciano finished fifteenth place overall for their noon to 3 p.m. show. Internet posters often ripped into the show – Murciano in particular, noting her lack of experience in talk radio. Posters often made fun of the show, referring to the duo as “Bob and Bride”, whatever that means.

WGN programming chief Todd Manley said ratings nor revenue had nothing to do with the cancellation. “It’s just a matter of resources.”, he told Robert Channick at the Tribune.“This move has nothing to do with the show’s ratings or revenue. Sirott & Murciano on WGN Radio was a success story.”  But a fifteenth-place finish is certainly cause for concern and perhaps I wouldn’t have been in the same room as Manley when he made this statement – his growing nose would’ve pushed me up against the wall. The move was made to eliminate two people from payroll, as their contract came up for renewal.

Earnings for Tribune Media, WGN Radio’s owner – and the only radio station in the company’s portfolio, grew in the second quarter but posted a loss due to high TV programming costs as more and more viewers are ditching cable TV for other alternatives. Tribune owns WGN America, the former superstation.

As for Sirott, a veteran of three local TV and three radio stations, what’s next for him? “After Friday, we’ll be going out to dinner, I guess,” Sirott told the Tribune.

Hope they enjoy the dining experience.