WGN Radio shakes up schedule; Bill and Wendy exit

Nexstar makes footprint known

As first reported by Robert Feder Wednesday night, WGN-AM made significant changes to its schedule, seeing several realignments and the exit of one of Chicago’s longest-running radio duos.

The Nexstar-owned radio station parted ways with Bill Leff and Wendy Snyder even though Leff was on vacation, depraving their fans of at least one final goodbye. Their departure likely means the end of the line for the venerable duo, who started together at the former WLUP-FM in the fall of 1994 and had a two-year run at WKQX-FM from 1996 to 1998. Fifteen years later they were reunited at WGN.

In a memo to WGN staff, director of news and operations Mary Sandberg Boyle told staffers about the departure of Leff and Snyder and stating making these these of changes are difficult. Here’s the new WGN Radio schedule, effective December 2:

WGN-AM simulcast the first hour of sister station WGN-TV’s morning newscast, from 4-5 a.m.

Steve Cochran’s morning show shifts to 5-9 a.m. – provided he can show up on time, which he hasn’t done too often when he was on from 6-10 a.m.

John Williams shifts to late mornings from 9 a.m.-noon.

From noon to 1 p.m. is a business show sponsored by a local bank and hosted by Ji Suk Yi, a former Sun-Times columnist and contributor to ABC 7’s Windy City Live and was in the same role on Steve Cochran’s show.

Roe Conn co-host Anna Davlantes spins off onto her own show from 1 to 3 p.m., with Conn now hosting solo from 3-7 p.m.

Justin Kaufmann’s evening show adds an hour, from 7 p.m-11 p.m.

Nick Digilio remains in late-night/overnights, from 11 p.m.-4 a.m.

There’s no coincidence these changes were announced the day after Nexstar CEO Perry Sook visited the station and reassured staffers the station was safe. Nexstar purchased WGN-AM as part of their $4.2 billion acquisition of Tribune Media, which closed two months ago. WGN-AM is the only radio station in Nexstar’s portfolio, who owns 197 television stations across the United States including WGN-TV. Sean Compton – who has a radio background with Clear Channel, became executive vice president of WGN-AM upon closure of the sale.

While Bill and Wendy drew decent ratings in their daytime slot (finishing twelfth), it wasn’t enough to save their jobs as the once-dominant radio station in town with an iconic history continues its difficult transition into the new world of media, now proliferated with podcasting and Sirius/XM. Whether Nexstar is up to the task of running (or ruining) a station in the country’s third-largest market remains to be seen.

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9 responses to WGN Radio shakes up schedule; Bill and Wendy exit

  1. Fran

    Bill and Wendy were the only interesting time slot on WGN.

    I won’t listen any longer.

  2. Sue

    You took the best show off!!
    Cochran does not hold a candle to them…
    Jim is great but I can’t see her replacing Burtran who has so much knowledge on so many things.
    The only show I’ll even listen to is John Williams …
    I think you guys made a BIG MISTAKE😩

  3. nancy d. doctor

    Bring Bill and Wendy back.

  4. Lois rivers

    So long Bill and Wendy. This will be my last win radio experience too. The slot held by Patty V (who I wasn’t fond of) is now a never tune-in for me. So long wgn.

  5. Jo Ann

    Ji??? Take Betram’s place! Impossible. She needs a serious tone of voice to talk about business. Agree.. can Cochran show up on time? King John is now the voice of reason on WGN.
    Steve Grzanich… how could they remove your show? I listened it to every morning! Is this Dallas based company going to ax Orion next.? My opinion of ANY company releasing an employee via email versus being a Man is that they are gutless.
    I’d worry remaining WGN STAFF.. you’re not safe from this management. Shame on Mrs Boyle

  6. Anonymous

    Good bye wgn

  7. Anonymous

    Was a faithful listener. Also had been listening to Nick’s show every day driving to work 4-5 and midday with Bill and Wendy. Just lost another listener.

  8. Debbie

    Bill and Wendy are gone?? Heck, I still miss Kathy and Judy! John Williams and Roe Conn are the only reasons I’m still listening

  9. I was so grateful when John Williams came back to WGN. So I will live in hope that someone has common sense enough to bring back Bill and Wendy. WGN, what were you thinking?

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