Bobby Bones heads to Chicago

Syndicated country morning show joins Big 95.5’s lineup

In a move a lot of insiders saw as inevitable, languishing iHeartMedia-owned country station WEBG-FM (branded as Big 95.5 FM) is bringing in nationally syndicated host Bobby Bones for mornings, beginning Monday.

Based at iHeartMedia’s WSIX-FM in Nashville, the show replaces Amber (Alabama) Cole’s program but is shifting to a late morning slot. The move comes months after the station parted ways with low-rated morning team Mason and Remy, who recently returned to radio in St. Louis.

To introduce himself to Chicago audiences, Bones will throw out the first pitch at Saturday’s Cubs game at Wrigley Field.

Bones already airs on numerous iHeartMedia country stations nationwide. Born in Hot Springs, Arkansas in poverty to a single teenaged mother, Bones got his start in radio at seventeen at Henderson State University. Bones became a successful Top 40 radio personality in Austin, Texas and in an unusual move, Clear Channel Communications (iHeartMedia’s previous name) shifted him to Nashville to launch a syndicated country radio show via Premiere Radio Networks in 2013.

Despite lacking the traditional background in country music, Bones’ show has became a phenomenal success, averaging three million listeners nationwide. It’s the reasoning behind then-owner CBS Radio’s decision to shift Stylz and Roman from WBBM-FM to country station WUSN-FM for their morning program, despite a background in contemporary-hit radio. Bones’ program has been a top destination of country music stars, such as Luke Bryan, Taylor Swift (when she was one), and The Voice’s Blake Shelton.

In addition to his daily show, Bones also hosts a weekly country countdown programs syndicated by Premiere on most of the same stations. And Bones became the youngest person ever (at 38) to be inducted into the National Radio Hall Of Fame.

While on the surface this looks like another local morning show falling by the wayside for syndicated content, keep in mind what Big 95.5 has been airing in morning drive hasn’t exactly packed the joint with a tie for 24th place in the most recent Nielsen PPM report. Replacing it with Bones makes sense and is a boost for the already successful show, which now has the third-largest radio market in the country in its arsenal. The biggest surprise here is why this move wasn’t made sooner, given Big 95.5 and Bones’ syndicated show share a corporate parent in iHeartMedia and the previous morning shows’ awful ratings.