WGN Radio shakes up schedule; Bill and Wendy exit

Nexstar makes footprint known

As first reported by Robert Feder Wednesday night, WGN-AM made significant changes to its schedule, seeing several realignments and the exit of one of Chicago’s longest-running radio duos.

The Nexstar-owned radio station parted ways with Bill Leff and Wendy Snyder even though Leff was on vacation, depraving their fans of at least one final goodbye. Their departure likely means the end of the line for the venerable duo, who started together at the former WLUP-FM in the fall of 1994 and had a two-year run at WKQX-FM from 1996 to 1998. Fifteen years later they were reunited at WGN.

In a memo to WGN staff, director of news and operations Mary Sandberg Boyle told staffers about the departure of Leff and Snyder and stating making these these of changes are difficult. Here’s the new WGN Radio schedule, effective December 2:

WGN-AM simulcast the first hour of sister station WGN-TV’s morning newscast, from 4-5 a.m.

Steve Cochran’s morning show shifts to 5-9 a.m. – provided he can show up on time, which he hasn’t done too often when he was on from 6-10 a.m.

John Williams shifts to late mornings from 9 a.m.-noon.

From noon to 1 p.m. is a business show sponsored by a local bank and hosted by Ji Suk Yi, a former Sun-Times columnist and contributor to ABC 7’s Windy City Live and was in the same role on Steve Cochran’s show.

Roe Conn co-host Anna Davlantes spins off onto her own show from 1 to 3 p.m., with Conn now hosting solo from 3-7 p.m.

Justin Kaufmann’s evening show adds an hour, from 7 p.m-11 p.m.

Nick Digilio remains in late-night/overnights, from 11 p.m.-4 a.m.

There’s no coincidence these changes were announced the day after Nexstar CEO Perry Sook visited the station and reassured staffers the station was safe. Nexstar purchased WGN-AM as part of their $4.2 billion acquisition of Tribune Media, which closed two months ago. WGN-AM is the only radio station in Nexstar’s portfolio, who owns 197 television stations across the United States including WGN-TV. Sean Compton – who has a radio background with Clear Channel, became executive vice president of WGN-AM upon closure of the sale.

While Bill and Wendy drew decent ratings in their daytime slot (finishing twelfth), it wasn’t enough to save their jobs as the once-dominant radio station in town with an iconic history continues its difficult transition into the new world of media, now proliferated with podcasting and Sirius/XM. Whether Nexstar is up to the task of running (or ruining) a station in the country’s third-largest market remains to be seen.

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