US 99 pulls plug on Jason & Katie morning show

WUSN morning show cancellation is second in thirteen months

The continuing struggles of the country music format in Chicago is continuing to take its toll as Entercom’s WUSN canceled its morning show after only ten months on the air.

As first reported by Robert Feder Tuesday, WUSN pulled the plug on the show hosted by Jason Pullman and Katie Bright with the last broadcast talking place earlier in the day.

Entercom Chicago Vice President of Programming Todd Cavanah said there would be “a nationwide search” for a new host (or hosts) with Drew Walker named interim host from 7 p.m. to 1 p.m.

Bright abruptly decided to depart from the station, as she found the morning position too grueling as a mother to two young children. With the move, US 99 decided to cut ties with Pullman, who moved to the Chicago area to take the job after ten years working for country radio station WUBL in Atlanta, where he was laid off in early 2019. Pullman is expected to return to the Atlanta area.  

The duo were paired together in August 2019, just three months after US 99 canceled Stylz and Roman’s morning show. Shifting over from sister station contemporary-hit radio WBBM-FM, the move was considered odd given they had no country music background. The result was three years of mediocre ratings and decided to hire a team with a little more familiarity with the product. In addition to Pullman’s stint in Atlanta, Bright worked as the national director of promotions at Warner Records Nashville.

The pandemic has hurt revenue for television and radio stations nationwide, including Chicago where numerous employees on-air and off – have been laid-off or furloughed. With Bright quitting, it was an opportunity to WUSN and Entercom to clear some payroll off the books.

According to May’s Nielsen PPM rankings, US 99 ranked 18th opposite Bobby Bones’ low-rated syndicated show on rival iHeartMedia-owned Big 95.5 (WEBG-FM), another struggling country station. Overall, WUSN ranked 16th; Big 95.5 ranked a dismal 24th as together, they have a cume 4.0 overall rating. By comparison, eight Chicago radio stations have higher numbers including classic hits WLS-FM and adult contemporary WLIT-FM.

The low numbers for each station on terrestrial radio indicate country music fans are fed up and tuning out as their presentation leaves very little to leave desired. Many listeners have shifted to the numerous country music channels on Sirius/XM (where there is more variety, of course) or listening to playlists on Spotify or YouTube. For years, US 99 was the only country game in town until after iHeartMedia flipped the then-WNUA to country in 2015 after two failed Spanish-language formats took up the frequency. It shows how thin the country music audience in the Chicago area is stretched.

And as for this “nationwide search” for a new morning show, Cavanah is using the same approach City Hall did when they were looking for a new police superintendent. And so far, we all know how that is turning out.

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