D.C. programmer joins iHeartMedia Chicago

Howard hopes to take cluster to new level

There isn’t much going on in D.C. these days with the government shutdown, but one radio programmer is hoping to inject some excitement in the Chicago radio scene.

As first reported by Radio Insight last week, iHeartMedia Chicago has hired James Howard to become Senior Vice President of Programming for the six-station cluster and additionally, taking on duties as program director for Top 40 WKSC-FM (Kiss FM 103.5). Howard will report to Matt Scarano, who is iHeartMedia’s Chicago Market Manager.

Howard is coming over from iHeartMedia’s Washington D.C. cluster, where he was also Vice President of Programming. He replaces Tommy Austin in the role, who is heading to its national programming group.

In his sixteen years at iHeartMedia/Clear Channel, Howard has held programming positions in several markets, including Atlanta and Orlando. In Washington, three of iHeartMedia’s stations rank in the top ten. “James Howard has a winning track record,” said Scarano in a press release. “His breadth of knowledge, leadership and programming creativity will be a tremendous asset to our team.”

Howard is joining the cluster whose performance is mixed at best. While WKSC is beating longtime rival WBBM-FM (B96), the station only ranks twelfth in the market amid an ongoing creative slump in the Top 40 format right now. And given Howard’s experience as a rock programmer, there is already speculation surrounding the future of low-rated country music station WEBG-FM (Big 95.5.)

Other iHeartMedia stations in Chicago include top-rated urban adult contemporary WVAZ-FM (V103); urban contemporary WGCI-FM; adult contemporary WLIT-FM (The Lite); and gospel WGRB-AM.