Media Notepad: Chicago radio personality Greg Brown to retire

Also: remembering Dick Kay; Broadcast networks makes moves

Longtime Chicago radio personality Greg Brown is calling it a career this week after five decades on the city’s airwaves, as first reported Friday by Radio Insight.

The current WLS-FM personality started his Chicago radio career in 1970. His longest tenures were thirteen years at WKQX-FM (during its CHR/Hot AC era); eleven years at WJMK-FM; and currently, fourteen years at WLS-FM. 

He’s also spent time at WBBM-FM, and the former WMET-FM and WYSY-FM. 

Brown’s retirement has triggered move not only at WLS, but also WKQX who both share a common owner in Cumulus Media. Taking Brown’s place effective May 24 is Erin Carmen, who is trading in her afternoon slot. Tim Virgin is staying in afternoons but at WLS instead of WKQX. 

WKQX is moving Jon Manley from nights to afternoons with Lauren O’Neill taking over for Virgin in afternoons. Continuing a troubling trend with radio these days, WKQX is opting to go the syndicated route by adding Greg Beharrell for evenings. However, there is a Chicago connection – Beharrell once worked at WKQX.  

WLS-FM is a classic hits outlet; WKQX is alternative rock. Ironically, Brown left WKQX in 1992 after the station flipped to alternative. 

Journalists are mourning the loss of Dick Kay, whose death was announced on Thursday. The longtime WMAQ-TV political editor, reporter, and anchor died of a brain hemorrhage at the age of 84. 

His career began in radio in Delkin, Ill. and later in Peoria, then moved to Green Bay, Wis. and became news director of then-NBC affiliate WFRV, where he interviewed then-candidate Richard Nixon. He later moved to WMAQ in 1968.

Kay spent 38 years at the NBC-owned station and in addition to the above duties, he was the station’s union steward and hosted the political show City Desk. He also covered the protests and chaos at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, and won a Peabody Award for his 1985 investigation into patronage in the Illinois General Assembly. Kay also was elected national vice-president of American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, or AFTRA. 

After retiring from WMAQ in 2006, Kay briefly worked for then-Gov. Rod Blagoveich’s administration before returning to broadcasting in 2008, getting a position at liberal talk station WCPT-AM, where he hosted a weekly Saturday talk show called Back On The Beat, where he was until two weeks ago when he was hospitalized. A tribute aired Saturday on WCPT in his time slot. 

Born in Tennessee as Richard Snodgrass, Kay is survived by his wife and three daughters, and a grandchild. 

It used to be a big deal this time of year – the broadcast networks usually would clear their “bubble shows” on the Thursday and Friday before upfront week, as this blog once dubbed it “Bubble Bustin’ [insert day of week here.]” 

But with so many changes in television now – not to mention a pandemic that has sacked traditional upfronts two years running amid plunging ratings, there doesn’t seem to be the same kind of feel. Still, the networks plan to announce new shows and schedules next week, and a few days ago, they cleared out the deadwood: 

ABC. The network canceled five shows Friday: American Housewife, Call Your Mother, For Life, Mixed-ish, and Rebel. ABC also announced the end of black-ish after eight seasons with reports stating only six episodes plan to be produced, though the exact number couldn’t be specified. 

CBS: The network pulled the plug on The Unicorn and All Rise, the latter the subject of behind-the-scenes problems involving a showrunner creating and tolerating a racist and sexist atmosphere. CBS is also moving Clarice and Seal Team to streaming service Paramount +. The network did renew new comedies B Positive and The United States Of Al

NBC: The network announced its 2020-21 schedule but with just three new shows but with no new comedies on the fall schedule in an unprecedented move. The biggest surprise is the absence of This Is Us, which is returning midseason and calling it quits after six seasons. 

More information will be released in the coming days, but let’s face it…with viewers cutting the cord and moving to streaming in record numbers, the idea of upfronts and “fall schedules” is quite antiquated. 


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