As the sale of Tribune Media to Sinclair Broadcasting is soon to close pending FCC and Justice Department approval, WGN-AM announced some lineup changes Wednesday, affecting its evening lineup and morning show.
As first reported by Robert Feder, Justin Kaufmann is giving up his evening Download show and is becoming a full-time contributor to Steve Cochran’s morning show.
Replacing Download in evenings is a new show hosted by Patti Vasquez, who is being bumped up from late-nights. Joining Vasquez is Andrea Darlas, who becomes co-host and news anchor of the evening show with Kaufmann is essentially taking Darlas’ place as Cochran’s contributor. The program is subject to pre-emptions due to sporting events, in which Vasquez’s and Darias’ show would be delayed until 10 p.m.
Download is continuing as a podcast, while clips from WGN programming will run from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. as WGN Nightside. Nick Diglio continues in overnights, adding the 1 a.m. hour.
The changes take place on June 18 as WGN completes its move to the new 303 East Wacker Drive building from its old Tribune Tower home with WGN signing on from its new eighteenth floor studios at 2 a.m. Monday morning with a newscast. The station is going back and forth between its new and old homes for the time being.
The move pairing Vasquez and Darias is a smart one given a dearth of female talk voices in Chicago radio. The current “MeToo” and “Time’s Up” movements has raised awareness of the need for more diverse voices in the media business.
The changes certainly can’t hurt. Once a powerhouse, WGN recently finished outside the top twenty in the latest PPM ratings reports and fared even worse in key demos. Known for its conservative leanings, Sinclair is unlikely to tamper with the new schedule once its $3.9 billion acquisition of Tribune Media is complete – at least in the short term.