Groundhog day isn’t until Thursday, but for WGN Radio, it came on Monday.
As first reported by Robert Feder (whose article on this story has 185 comments – and counting at the time of this writing), the Tribune-owned radio station announced Monday it is bringing back John Williams (not to be confused with the award-winning composer of the same name) to anchor its 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. time slot beginning March 13. Williams will continue with his Saturday show, airing from 10 a.m. to Noon.
The deal comes as Williams’ contract with CBS-owned WCCO-AM in Minneapolis-St. Paul is not being renewed. He held the late afternoon shift for several years, at one point holding gigs at WGN and WCCO simultaneously.
As a result, the midday show now hosted Kathy O’Malley and Judy Markey – nicknamed “The Girlfriends” – is being canceled. If you think you’ve seen this headline before, you’re right – Kathy & Judy was released from WGN radio eight years ago in an unpopular move. In addition, Bill Leff and Wendy Snyder late morning show is being cut back, with the third hour exclusively on WGNPlus.com. A business lunch hour show sponsored by a bank continues at noon.
From the station’s PR release via Radio Insight, here’s WGN’s complete weekday and Saturday sked:
Effective March 13, 2017, WGN Radio’s weekday programming schedule:
The Opening Bell, 5am – 6am
Steve Cochran Show, 6am – 10am
Bill and Wendy Show, 10am – Noon
Wintrust Business Lunch with Steve Bertrand, Noon – 1pm
John Williams Show, 1pm – 3pm
Roe Conn Show with Anna Davlantes, 3pm – 7pm
The Download with Justin Kaufmann, 7pm – 11pm
Patti Vasquez Show, 11pm – 2am
Nick Digilio Show, 2am – 5am
Effective March 18, 2017, Saturday programming schedule:
Lou Manfredini, 7am – 10am
John Williams, 10am – Noon
Wintrust Business Lunch, Noon – 1pm
The Innovation Hour, 1pm – 2pm
On the Road with Dane Neal, 2pm – 4pm
The Beat, 4pm – 7pm
As you can see above, WGN is adding two new shows to its Saturday lineup: The Innovation Hour (naming a radio show after a corporate buzzword can’t possibly be a good idea) and On The Road With Dane Neal, an automotive-related show.
Here’s WGN Radio boss Todd Manley: “When we learned there was an opportunity to bring John back to Chicago full time we had to jump on it. There has never been a better time to have more of his inventive and intelligent talk on the station. We’re excited about the Saturday changes and want to express how incredibly grateful we are to Kathy and Judy for their contributions to the WGN family. We will look for every opportunity to continue their legacy.”
Indeed, Williams was a popular figure at WGN from when he started his career in 1997. His return to the daily schedule is a win for the station’s listeners and advertisers.