Kevin Metheny dies

Kevin Metheny
Kevin Metheny

Though his career in Chicago radio was brief, Kevin Metheny made a notable impact on the medium.

As reported by Rich Liberman’s 415 Media blog in San Francisco, Metheny was found slumped over his desk Friday afternoon at Cumulus’ KGO/KSFO-AM, suffering from a heart attack. He was rushed to the hospital, but died a short time later.

Cumulus Executive Vice President, Programming, and Content John Dickey said in a statement (via Radio Insight:)

“Kevin Metheny’s sudden passing this afternoon is a devastating personal and professional loss for his broadcasting family at Cumulus, and for the entire radio industry. Kevin was a legendary broadcasting talent who touched many lives in his remarkable 44-year career, and whose successes made an indelible mark on radio. His reputation and accomplishments are simply unparalleled and we are grateful for having had the opportunity to work with him as PD of WJR in Detroit and most recently, as Operations Manager of KGO and KSFO in San Francisco. His Cumulus family extends our deepest sympathies to Kevin’s loved ones. We will miss him profoundly.”

Known in industry circles by some as “Pig Virus”, Metheny called the radio industry home for 44 years, starting at KWHP in Edmond, Okla. His best known stint came in the early 1980’s, where he was program director of NBC-owned WNBC-AM (now CBS-owned WFAN) for four years and often clashed with an afternoon host named Howard Stern, who would later rise to national fame. In fact, it was Stern who coined the term “Pig Virus” to describe his boss (the phrase was later changed to “Pig Vomit” in Stern’s autobiographical movie Private Parts, with Paul Giamatti playing Metheny.)

After a long stint at Jacor and Clear Channel, Metheny was hired by then-Tribune CEO Randy Michaels (who he used to work with at CC) to become program director of WGN-AM in December 2008, but his time here was a disaster. Metheny made numerous changes, which included some questionable hires, such as former city clerk Jim Laski and midday host Mike McConnell, who was at WLW-AM in Cincinnati (a Clear Channel-owned station.) There was also an attempt by Metheny to hire polarizing host Bill Cunningham, also of WLW, but never materialized. Metheny was not popular at WGN or throughout Chicago as he was a polarizing figure who alienated a lot of people. He was a participant in the infamous “poker party” held in Colonel McCormick’s offices, photographed along with Michaels and others.

A local media website (which I endorsed at the time) even had a long list of “sins” Metheny committed while running WGN. 

When Michaels exited Tribune in October 2010, the clock was ticking on Metheny and he was let go three weeks later. Michaels joined Cumulus in 2013, where he was program director of WJR-AM Detroit, and was named operations manager of KGO/KSFO in San Francisco in June.

Metheny is survived by a wife and two teenage daughters.