WGCI halts “Morning Riot”

As first reported by Robert Feder Monday morning, WGCI has pulled the plug on The Morning Riot after nearly six years on the air.

Out are hosts Tony Sculfield and Nina Chantele, and program director Kenard Kanter, the latter after just nine months on the job. Leon Rogers is staying on in the interim and is being teamed with various weekend fill-in personnel.

In addition, Chantele also loses her WKSC-FM midday slot.

Derrick Brown takes over as PD, in addition to his duties as director of urban programming at iHeart Media’s (formerly Clear Channel Communications) Chicago cluster.

The move does raise speculation WGCI would replace Riot with the syndicated Breakfast Club, which airs on sister station WWPR-FM in New York. Both WGCI and WWPR are hip-hop/urban stations owned by iHeart Media. No announcement on a permanent replacement is expected until at least the first of the year.

This marks the third morning show to get moved/axed at WGCI in a little over seven years. Riot replaced Steve Harvey’s syndicated morning show in April 2009, with Harvey moving to sister station WVAZ. Harvey replaced “Crazy” Howard McGee’s morning show two years earlier. Despite the return to live and local in mornings, Riot never really achieved the ratings success McGee had before.

The latest firings marks what has been a tumultuous period in Chicago radio, where in the last six months, we’ve seen Ramonski Luv ousted at V103, Jane Monzures exiting WILV, and WGN Radio demoting – and later firing Garry Meier, while pulling the plug on FM sports talker The Game after nine months and laying off much of its staff. Saying its been a tough time to hold on to a job in the nation’s third-largest market is an understatement.

Not the radio powerhouse it once was, WGCI has been able to stay ahead of rival WPWX (Power 92), but the margin has shrunk considerably, with only 1.1 rating points separating the two. In November, WGCI ranked tenth; Power 92 ranked eighteenth. Riot competed with the syndicated Rickey Smiley Show Power 92.

This comes as urban radio is undergoing a upheaval: several stations across the country have flipped to a Classic Hip-Hop format (mostly ’90’s and 2000’s product), siphoning away older listeners in the adult 18-34 and adult 25-54 demos from traditional urban and urban AC (adult contemporary) stations.

Recently, the flip to Classic Hip-Hop has resulted in the cancellation of The Tom Joyner Morning Show in its home market of Dallas and Orlando.

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