WGN Radio changes: Conn out, Landecker in

Latest shakeup continues overhaul of iconic station

In the ultimate Friday evening news dump – coming before the start of a long holiday weekend, Nexstar-owned WGN-AM announced huge changes to its weekday lineup.

As first reported by Robert Feder, gone was longtime radio host Roe Conn and in is Radio Hall Of Famer John Records Landecker, who’ll take over evenings from 7-10 p.m. Conn’s last show was Friday.

Also out is longtime WGN personality Nick Diglio, a 35-year veteran of the station. He was upped to evening host last spring to replace Justin Kaufmann, who has since returned to WBEZ-FM.

In place of Conn’s afternoon show, is a new program called Chicago’s Afternoon News hosted by longtime station anchor Steve Bertrand. It is positioned as a daily newsmagazine show, tackling issues such as the current coronavirus pandemic, racial unrest, and of course, the upcoming election. The new program is scheduled to run from 4 to 7 p.m. and as a result, Anna Dalavantes’ current early afternoon radio program is being extended an hour.

Coming in evenings in Landecker, a move hinted by Feder a few weeks ago and he’ll take over the 7 to 10 p.m. slot. Landecker is a longtime veteran of Chicago radio, arriving at WLS-AM in 1972 and spent nine years before departing for Toronto. He returned to Chicago in the mid-1980s as morning personality at the short-lived WAGO-FM (now WCFS/WBBM Newsradio) and later held down gigs at WLUP-FM, WJMK-FM (where he spent ten years as morning personality), WCKG-FM, and more recently, evening personality at WLS-FM. He talked about his career in a best-selling book titled Records Truly Is My Middle Name.

The changes are effective September 28.

The firing of Conn isn’t surprising given his contract with WGN-AM was expiring at the end of the year as low ratings for his show in afternoon drive were cited as one of the reasons for the change. Conn was a longtime radio host at WLS-AM and was paired with Garry Meier for several years. He shifted to WGN in January 2015 after he contract was not renewed at WLS.

This is the second major change at a Chicago radio in two days. A day earlier, iHeartMedia pulled the plug on Big 95.5 and its country format, replacing it with a Mainstream Rock format.

These recent moves at WGN Radio is a continuing makeover of the storied news/talk outlet, once home to Wally Phillips, Bob Collins, and Spike O’Dell. Earlier this year, Bob Sirott replaced Steve Cochran in morning drive and Dalvantes took over early afternoons. WGN-AM and its sister TV station were part of the $4.1 billion deal Nexstar made to acquire Tribune Media last year.

It is interesting to see if WGN’s gambit with a newsmagazine show with an awfully generic-sounding title will work as they are trying the same approach Nexstar is with NewsNation – straight down the middle with no bias, putting them head-to-head with top-rated WBBM-AM’s hard news format.

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13 thoughts on “WGN Radio changes: Conn out, Landecker in

    • I respect and like Steve Bertrand but won’t be listening from 4pm to 7pm. Did you consider that Roe’s ratings were lower because our schedules have been altered due to the pandemic and people aren’t commuting. I don’t think the 4-7pm shift will get high ratings no matter who is hosting. My loyalty lies with Roe.

    • Really enjoyed Roe’s show. I grew up in Chicago and appreciate that he really knows the City. Listened to him at WLS and will follow him to next gig also.

    • I know management of WGN doesn’t care, but WTH? Nothing personal with these people, but Bob Sirott, Anna Davlantes, & John Landecker should NOT be on WGN radio. They stumble over their own sentences more than anyone I know. It’s painful to listen to them. WGN was a MUCH better station before “nexstar” took over. If this is the best Mary Boyle what’s her name can do…she needs to go also!

    • Done with wgn. Boring and lackluster. Nothing to listen to now . Time to move on.

    • He will be greatly missed. He had great knowledge of current events. He lightened up all the negative going on around us! I wish him well and hope to hear that he has found his new Spot! MUNSTER, IN> listener

    • I’m tired of nothing but John Williams on wgn they let go some of the best. Nick Digilio for one They say it’s a 24 hour news station. I get enough at 5 & 6 pm and 10:00pm. I can also choose to watch at 11:00 am and noon. On tv. I’ve listened to wgn for50 years so it is hard to say goodbye. But I’m saying goodbye to wgn radio. I’ll miss the good stuff. Not the recent stuff

    • I used to love Roe until he became obsessed with hating Trump, then I turned him off. His coverage of the Russia collusion hoax was downright ugly.

      • I agree. I followed Roe from WLS,and had listened to him for years dating back to his days with Gary Meier. I was a medical sales rep and was always on the road and never missed his program. When he got to WGN his animosity and vitriol toward Trump was insufferable and clearly steeped in liberal talking points and bias. I just turned him off and never looked back.

      • I agree. I followed Roe from WLS,and had listened to him for years dating back to his days with Gary Meier. I was a medical sales rep and was always on the road and never missed his program. When he got to WGN his animosity and vitriol toward Trump was insufferable and clearly steeped in liberal talking points and bias. I just turned him off and never looked back.

    • I have given Rollye a chance at bedtime but I finally have to just turn her off. You didn’t help WGN at all by hiring her….goodby!
      We do enjoy Sinatra on Sun mornings and we always like John but please don’t wear him out! Sirot is a welcome relief from Cochran and we are glad that Conn is gone. I miss Diglio and remember when he was a kid on Roys show. Bertrand is one of the good guys. You’ll get this sorted out but don’t spoil what was a good thing for years!!

    • Hooray for the moves, I am back with WGN. Bob is great, As is John. Since 1975 WGN had been my station for entertainment and news. When Spike, Max, John all were let go I left as well. It is nice to enjoy radio ahain

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