WGN Radio shocker: Cochran out, Sirott in

Sirott returns to morning shift; Cochran canned for second time from WGN

In a week filled with numerous Chicago media changes, here’s another one and this turns out to be the biggest one of them all.

As first reported by Robert Feder Friday morning, WGN-AM morning personality Steve Cochran was dropped from the station and replaced by a returning Bob Sirott, who’ll take over January 6.

The decision to replace Cochran with Sirott stunned many local media observers, given Cochran finished third in the all-important morning drive daypart in the last Nielsen PPM report. Cochran becomes the highest-rated host to be canned in Chicago radio in years; in 2007, Howard McGee was released from WGCI despite finishing first in adults 18-34 in morning drive and was replaced by Steve Harvey’s syndicated morning show (McGee has since returned to Chicago radio in a weekend/fill-in role at WVAZ-FM, WGCI’s sister station.)

Reports surfaced Cochran had personality conflicts with WGN boss Sean Compton, who was appointed the station’s GM shortly after Nexstar took over the legendary AM station as part of the company’s $4.1 billion takeover of Tribune Media, WGN’s former owner. Compton worked for Clear Channel Radio under Randy Michaels and made the transition with him to Tribune when Sam Zell bought the company in 2007. One major issue was Cochran not coming to work on time and starting late for his show.

Ironically, Cochran had been fired before by WGN in 2010 when he was afternoon host –  by the late Kevin Methany, another former protege of Michaels. Cochran was re-hired in 2013 for morning drive after spending a few years at Salem’s WIND-AM. Cochran has also been employed at the former WPNT and WLUP-AM.

For Sirott, this marks the third time he has been employed at WGN, returning to the station after he and wife Marianne Murciano left in 2015 after a two-year run. Sirott hosted The Noon Show from 2007-10 and was previously at WLS-AM with Murciano in 2017 before they were let go as the station shifted away from general interest talk. Like Cochran, Sirott’s resume is quite long – an alum of WLS during its Musicradio era and WBBM-FM during its progressive rock era and worked for four local television stations in a variety of roles and a stint as a correspondent for CBS’ West 57th newsmagaine in the mid-1980s.

Despite his firing, Cochran is still under contract through 2020.

This move caps off several weeks of major moves in Chicago radio, with WGN dropping Bill Leff and Wendy Snyder from middays and WXRT moving Lin Brehmer’s morning show to middays. In addition, the retirement of Tom Joyner (last heard on Clubsteppin’ 95.1) is expected to set off more changes.

So is this a smart move? Given Cochran had a solid track record and WGN ranked third in mornings, replacing him with Sirott doesn’t make sense. However, his run-ins with WGN management makes them feel his antics weren’t worth it. But Sirott being hired – again – reminds me of something I wrote some time ago saying “Chicago radio has become a nursing home for broken-down talent who refuse to leave the stage.” Sadly, this is truer now Chicago radio simply sticks with the same tired wheel of safe personalities, even as we head into the next decade. Looking at how Sirott’s ratings were the last time he was at WGN or WLS, don’t look for him to even come close to matching Cochran’s numbers.

What’s more interesting here is the recently retired Joyner – who is the same age as Sirott (70) – said about the state of radio recently in Billboard: “When I came along, you didn’t have a lot of listening choices. Now you can get anything you want, anytime you want, anywhere you want — and you don’t have to wait for radio or television to do it for you. That’s why I decided to retire. Whatever happens to newspapers and magazines — I’m sorry to say it, but I think radio is next on the list. And we’ve done it to ourselves. We’re not relevant anymore. That’s across the board.”

I suppose Sirott doesn’t feel the same way because if he did, he wouldn’t have signed a deal so he can get up at 3 a.m. every day to do a morning show. WGN’s hiring of Sirott tells us there is a lot of truth to what Joyner said because quite basically, relying on the same ol’ limited list of names to keep your radio station relevant is particularly asinine at a time when radio is failing to attract the next generation of listeners.

As analyst Rich Greenfield would say, “Good Luck Radio”. And to WGN and Sirott in particular.

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69 thoughts on “WGN Radio shocker: Cochran out, Sirott in

    • Liked Sirott, but been there, done that. Would love to see Pete McMurray have a permanent splot on WGN radio. He brings a fresh perspective with humor. thrown

      • Agree totally

      • Agree!

      • I believe Pete had the evening slot for a while on WGN about maybe 5 or 7 years ago(?) But he left WGN to take a job on 97.1 FM the Drive on their morning show. I was happy for Pete that he would get a morning show, but I had this bad feeling it was a bad move/risk/ Mornings as we know are a very competitive and no offense to 97.1 The Drive or its listeners, but it’s a music station for people that like type/genre of music. It’s not a talk station, in my opinion, and people who listen to that station in the morning probably want to listen to MUSIC. So I had doubts about Pete trying this morning gig at the Drive. And unfortunately it didn’t work out. So I wonder if WGN felt burned by Pete leaving them back then and that’s why WGN won’t offer Pete a full time gig…?

    • Sirott is horrible and his wife is worse. Will she be dragged along as well? Doesn’t matter. I’ll never listen to either one.

    • I’ll never understand the cut throat business that is radio. If it’s not broke don’t fix it. Like you said the ratings were great. Just because someone new comes in doesn’t mean they have to change things. I have no interest in Sirott so I guess I will not be listening.

    • I wasn’t crazy about Steve, always interrupting, having the last say, me,me,me.

      I don’t remember a lot about Bob Sirott or his wife.

      I guess after Bob Collins no one could measure up. That’s just my opinion.

    • I would say they’re turning wgn into a geriatric radio station but even my 91 year old mother thinks the new line up is boring even before they fired Steve Cochran. If they get rid of Roe Conn I’m done. Good bye WGN. I’ll miss you.

      • I agree with you completely AND your mother! Just started listening to WGN last year for something different. Not a bunch of political nonsense, but more current & interesting topics with some humor tossed in to keep it different. My brother-in-law listened to WGN too. We talked today about the sad decline of WGN. We are also down to Roe Cohn & Dean Richards as the last portion of this radio station that is worth my time. Someone doesn’t know their audience. Shame on you.

      • Which they’ve now done.

    • What is the new WGN thinking, are all the bosses afraid to read the numbers, or are there egos so large that they are smarter than the chicago listener’s, I hope that the person who put Sinatra on Sunday morning’s didn’t do this, but it sounds like the same logic.

    • Well said

    • GN is becoming trivialized by the new (right wing) policy of no national news and discussion. Democracy dies in darkness and GN has gone over to the dark side.

      • Agree

        • I have to say that I am very disappointed in this move. Many people do not get along well with the boss, especially initially – lots of changes with new owners and thus new Management. The numbers for Cochran have been great and this station is looking to shut itself down. That sounds like ownership/management is looking for a writer-off. That is a SIN. This is and has been a good /great organization other than the takeover by Sam Zell (What a horror). I looked forward to good things. This is not at all a GOOD thing. Yes there is no replacement for Bob Colins (whom I now believe you would wish to fire). Personalities needed to be looked at and tamed.
          Nothing against Bob Sirott but he his somewhat insipid and totally a follower, which also can mean he falls right in line with what some TIGER would tell him to do.

          So sorry for WGN as I will be gone also

    • I have been listening to WGN since high school. I am 78 and now done with WGN. I am tired of John Williams, and the repeative commercials. I always listened to the business lunch with Steve Bertran. The new Sinatra hour does not apply to me, I will miss Steve B at lunch, and the old schedule of news, weather, business, current events discussions. I know John Williams does currrent events, but is to opinionated.

      • You thought the commercials on WGN were repetitive? You’d hate it even more now, the entire schedule is repetitive! All night and all weekend long, they re-play hours and hours of recent programming, no new content, and none of the familiar, friendly voices we enjoyed. I used to listen to WGN 24/7 and liked nearly everyone I heard–now, I can only tolerate bits and pieces and tune elsewhere the majority of the day. I certainly don’t patronize their advertizers!

    • I absolutely loved Biff left and Wendy Snyder..both so very smart, informative and clever….funny so I don’t get at all Anna devlontes(boring because tries to hard and missing the clever funny and synicale flare) getting in with less of these qualities!!? Crazy..I will tune out and listen to bill and Wendy when they move…

    • Can’t stand that snotty, conceited Sirott. Won’t be listening.

    • Goodbye to the left leaning, Hillary loving, agenda pushing fool. Now I can listen to the station again
      Same too bill and Wendy, trump haters

      • Agree. Cochran constant bashing of Trump tiresome. He always interrupted people. He was annoying and loud. Happy Bob is back and working solo

        • He got what he deserved!
          I stopped listening months ago…
          There’s a valid reason he was kept in a room by himself…no one else could fit with him AND his ego. And yes…the ever present “I am right and you are wrong” my way or nothing, THE last word…ALWAYS…and the continuous bashing of the current administration…WAY TOO POLITICAL for a morning drive personality…
          You would have never seen Collins or O’Dell in this venue…
          Cochran’s demise started 3 years ago with Trump’s election and his own self centered beliefs, really believed his own BS. Sirott may not be the exact fit…but it’s a step in the right direction.

        • It isn’t bashing to tell the facts. That’s what Steve always did was tell the facts. Trump lovers love him no matter what he does and don’t want to hear facts when it conflicts with their convictions. Steve was open and honest, refreshing and absolutely transparent. This is a true loss and I am still looking for another radio station to listen to because I have stopped listening to WGN, and I now watch the news on TV and listen to music during morning drive.

    • There is a need for a radio station that caters to the “seniors”; though I’ve been listening to GN since I was in high school. (I am now 76). When the White Sox games are on, I go to 820 (dont know the call letters). I look forward to see what Bob brings to the table, WITHOUT his wife.

    • Insane! First Bill Leff, (never cared for Wendy Snyder)! Now, Steve Cochrane? They’re firing the WRONG people! All that’s left worth listening to now are the best Colour Analysts in the NHL-Troy Murray & John Wiederman. (By the way, STILL waiting for the promised Lou Malnatti’s $25 coupon-I won from WGN years ago)-Obviously, WGN doesn’t care at all that their words & deeds are aligned. Dark day for WGN. True talent of Bill Leff & Steve Cochrane will lead them to better oportunities, respect, and appreciation.

    • Glad to see him go.but sirott is not the answer. He is to mellow for morning radio and boring..I would rather hear Pete McMurray.he is awesome
      Think about it Wgn only Sirotts wife kept it alive when he was on.

    • I am absolutely delighted to not have to hear Cochran anymore; I listen to GN all day and I couldn’t wait for 10 am to come; as happy as I am that Cochran is gone, I’m that sad that bill and Wendy are gone- was nuts for them. No Cochran = Happy 2020. Get bill and Wendy back and 6-12 noon will be great!

    • OMG hope it’s Bob & Marianne
      Still crying about Wendy & Bill!

    • I didn’t think Cochran was that bad, but I had to turn the station off 2 years ago because I could stand listening to the two that followed Cochran in the morning and the idiot who does the over night show. If they would smarten up and get rid of him I just might start listening again.

    • I am beyond disgusted. Steve had such rapport with Dr. Most, Karen Conti, Dan Hampton and most anyone he spoke with. What the hell is wrong with WGN? Love Dave, Mary with the news and the camaraderie. Will not listen ever again. My Dad had WGN on all the time. I can remember being 10 years old and thinking how boring.’ I thought of my Dad often as I tuned in every morning. Loved Wally, Bob, Spike and Steve. Supremely disappointed!

    • Thank God you got rid of Cochran! I got tired of him and his staff treating Cochrun like he is the Holy Messiah! Always patting himself on His back! I will give Sirott a chance but Not with His wife. They tried that before and she is a ditz.

    • Sirott is ok.
      Agree with canning Cochrane. How long can you hear about Ross, Abigail, and the same ol s… Nobody cares. Now, if they can toss out that annoying Hockberg and his “team”… that would be great. What a loudmouth he is! And that’s all you hear all morning… which is why I left.

      • Absolutely agree about Hochberg. All he does is promote his business. I never could understand why WGN put him on the air so he could promote his mortgage business disguised as giving advice to people. Maybe he did some good things but good grief who needed it when you had to listen to him!

    • After listening to WGN radio for many decades (even with my father as a child) I’m done. Steve Cochran’s firing was the last straw. I listened to Sirrot back in the 70’s, didn’t like him then, and again when he filled in last week on WGN. He sounded lost and confused. No thanks, I’m out.

    • After listening to WGN radio for many decades (even with my father as a child) I’m done. Steve Cochran’s firing was the last straw. I listened to Sirrot back in the 70’s, didn’t like him then, and again when he filled in last week on WGN. He sounded lost and confused. No thanks, I’m out.

    • I’m thrilled to have Bob Sirott back on!! I stopped listening to the morning show when Cochran came on. Thank you WGN!!!

      • I’m so disappointed with WGN. Steve Cochran’s show was the only thing making my morning drive into the city somewhat bearable. I enjoyed his wit and his humor. Steve made me think and laugh, while stuck in traffic on the Kennedy each morning. He and his team were terrific morning entertainers. Not a Sirott fan, so I’ll be looking for a new morning station. So long WGN… you’ve lost another listener!

    • Bring back Bill & Wendy! Miss their show.

    • Agree totally

    • Glad to see pompous, arrogant, argumentative Cochran gone. Couldn’t stand the way he interrupted his guests. I’ll start listening to WGN again….bring back Brandmeier!!

    • Glad to see pompous, arrogant, argumentative Cochran gone. Couldn’t stand the way he interrupted his guests. I’ll start listening to WGN again….bring back Brandmeier!!

    • Glad to see pompous, arrogant, argumentative Cochran gone. Couldn’t stand the way he interrupted his guests. I’ll start listening to WGN again….bring back Brandmeier!!

    • I’m so disappointed with WGN. Steve Cochran’s show was the only thing making my morning drive into the city somewhat bearable. I enjoyed his wit and his humor. Steve made me think and laugh, while stuck in traffic on the Kennedy each morning. He and his team were terrific morning entertainers. Not a Sirott fan, so I’ll be looking for a new morning station. So long WGN… you’ve lost another listener!

    • Glad Cochran is gone–so self aggrandizing and self centered– the world did NOT center on him and his opinions!! Miss Bill and Wendy a lot. Next to go should be John Williams, also self centered and opinionated and dismissive of other points of view.

    • Please Don’t bring Sirott back! And definitely not his wife.
      Wgn has been part of my life since I was a child. I would listen with my dad. Now it is loosing me as a listener. Unless the make so extreme changes to the new line up.

    • I listen to WGN Radio less and less. I listen to Nick D now and then. Haven’t gotten over losing Steve and Johnnie. WGN Radio is just another radio station. Not much different than the next.

    • No Cubs, no Bill and Wendy, no Steve Cochran and a radio station that sounds like it’s out of the 50’s. I’m done. Nextstar is destroying what was a legend in radio . If us “older generation folks” are tuning out, just what listeners are you catering to? End of an era sadly.

    • Bill and Wendy ARE THE BEST. PLEASE BRING THEM BACK. Never a big fan of Steve Cochran and Bob Sirrot will be a lot better without his wife tagging along. I am a WGN junkie so I hope things work out. I would miss tuning in.

    • So disappointed with WGN. Too many replacements with less than par talent.
      I am/was an all day, long time listener. I actually turned Sirott off today-dull with not much to say. Part of a successful radio talent is not only wit and intelligence, but also an appealing voice. Giving a squeaky “little” voice a one person afternoon show is not the way to attract or keep listeners. I am hoping that eyes are opened and things change for the better.

    • When I first heard the sappy Nexstar jingle I suspected WGN radio was doomed. 1st they dump Bill & Wendy and now Steve? And then replace him with the ‘also-was’ ‘used to be’ Sirrot? I’m more happy than ever to pay the small Sirius XM monthly fee. I’ve listened to ‘GN for over nearly 6 decades and the decline is painful to hear.

    • Good that Bob Sirott is back yes he is more laid back than Steve Cochran but Bob will be respectful to the listeners that call in. It was time for Steve to go.Good luck to Bob

    • Steve was too negative – constantly focusing on the political scene from Only his prospective.
      I listen every morning while driving to work from 5:30 to 7am and had to change to a another station as his comments did NOT Make my day as a Customer Service Manager. LOVE Bob and could not wait to return to WGN. Age discrimination MUST be eliminated and a person recognized for their TALENT – up beat , and positive so refreshing at this stressful time.

    • Steve was too negative – constantly focusing on the political scene from Only his prospective.
      I listen every morning while driving to work from 5:30 to 7am and had to change to a another station as his comments did NOT Make my day as a Customer Service Manager. LOVE Bob and could not wait to return to WGN. Age discrimination MUST be eliminated and a person recognized for their TALENT – up beat , and positive so refreshing at this stressful time.

    • WGN is a radio station that I “used” to listen to for entertainment, news and current events. Anyone can just repeat the news over and over again. The firing of Bill, Wendy and Steve Cochran make many of us feel like we’ve lost some family members. I wish them well and perhaps they are better off not working for WGN EVER AGAIN!!

    • I used to listen to Bod in the 70’s..But I also used to listen to my mother.

    • Really miss Bill & Wendy. Looking to see where they will end up. Will definitely tune into their show. Love Pete. Glad Steve C is gone.

    • I listened recently to Sirott and found the program so boring!!!! Yuck , what dry and better than thou persona. I sure don’t want to listen to theMrs if the Mister is dry as clay. Bring Wendy & Bill back too!!!

    • Late in the game for a response but I still miss Spike and Judi and Kathy! Glad Steve C is gone. Don’t need the negativity heading into work. Still like Roe’s insanity on the drive home.

    • So disappointed in the new morning show…thought I’d give it a couple of months but it hasn’t improved……

    • I get not stand Landdecker. I have a disease (Parkinsons) which often ikeeps me up at night. I really miss,Nkck Digilio.

      • Totally agree with you about missing Nick. The way WGN fired both Nick and Steve was a travesty. To not even have a chance to say goodbye to long-time listeners was just cruel. At least Kathy and Judy got a chance to wrap things up.

    • OH my I left Chicago in 2012, but still listened to WGN Stream. Bob Sirrott is Chicago, and he is class. John Williams pulls us in to listen. Cochran was always a rather annoying DJ. While residing in TX 09/2015 DeCastro fired Bob and Marianne. That did it never listened again until today.

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