The Media Notepad: WLS-AM launches two new afternoon shows

Also: The latest Chicago radio ratings; Arizona Coyotes to move all games to broadcast TV

Cumulus Media’s conservative talker WLS-AM recently announced they were adding two new afternoon shows to replace the departed Big John Howell Show.

First from 3-4 p.m. weekdays is Closing Bell. Not related to the similarly-titled CNBC business news show airing at the same time, Bell recaps the day’s business news, including from the worlds of tech and consumer news. Bell also plans chats with local business leaders, including CEOs, entrepreneurs, and small business owners.

Then from 4-5 p.m. is PM Chicago, a discussion of Chicago issues and how they matter to the city. Among the hot topics discussed include the ongoing migrant crisis going on in the city, and of course crime. 

Both shows are hosted by WLS news anchor Brett Gogogel, with fellow anchors Kim Gordon, Nick Gale, and Annie Krall. Each premiered on October 2.

“I am delighted to be adding local news and business programs for our listeners in the afternoons”, said Stephanie Tichenor, who is the station’s program director. “Bret has risen through the ranks at WLS from a part-time board operator to news anchor and host and he is the perfect fit to helm these new offerings.”

“I’m beyond excited to host The Closing Bell and PM Chicago on WLS”, Gogogel said. “Listeners deserve to hear the latest, unbiased news about their money and their city, and I look forward to providing that on a daily basis.”

In the September PPMs, WLS-AM tied for 23rd place overall with ESPN 1000 WMVP-AM.

And speaking of those September PPMs, two of Chicago’s dominant radio stations for the last few years have tied each other at the top of the radio ratings chart  again- iHeartMedia’s WLIT and Hubbard’s The Drive.

Both stations tied for first with a 6.8 share with more than a two-point lead over the next station but WLIT does have an edge in the 25-54 demo, where they finished first. However, ratings for WLIT were down from last month, but given their annual Christmas music format kicks off in the next month or so, it’s certain iHeartMedia isn’t sweating over the book.

The last time both stations tied for the top spot was in August 2022.

Stations posting gains include 101.9 The Mix and the aforementioned Drive, but also WGN Radio and The Score (WSCR-AM), who finished eleventh thanks to the Cubs’ see-saw drama in the Wild Card race, which saw them fade in the end and of course, missing the playoffs. Also swinging up is Top 40 Kiss 103.5 FM, who tied for thirteenth with WBEZ and showed increases in a ratings period where kids went back to school. 

On the downside was B96, who finished tied for 21st with a huge drop and now is tied for the second-lowest FM station in the market. You have to wonder how long Audacy is going to keep this station around since it’s been flailing for years. Then again, Audacy might not be around itself, despite the blabber coming from execs. 

After its contract was dropped by the bankrupt Diamond Sports Group Wednesday night, the NHL’s Arizona Coyotes announced it has signed a new multi-year deal with Scripps Sports, who’ll put the team’s eighty regular-season games on a digital subchannel of its owned station in Phoenix, ABC affiliate KNXV. 

“We are thrilled to partner with Scripps Sports and provide free Coyotes games to our fans,” said Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo. “This is a major win for us to be able to increase our reach and continue to grow the great game of hockey in the desert. We are committed to winning, committed to the Valley, and committed to doing what’s best for our incredibly loyal and passionate fanbase.”

81 games are schedules for KNXV’s 15.2 channel – home to Nexstar’s classic TV sitcom channel Antenna TV and is available over-the-air and Cox Cable’s channel 95, the area’s largest MSO provider. Games will also be made available in Tucson on KGUN Channel 9.2 and in Salt Lake City on KSTU 13.2 (also home to Antenna TV) and Scripps’ independent station in the market, KUPX. However, games won’t be available for DirecTV or Dish customers; nor subscribers of MVPD series such as YouTube TV and Hulu + Live TV, so viewers will need an antenna.

A direct-to-consumer option for fans via streaming is in the works, both organizations said. 

Scripps Sports was formed in order to grab more over-the-air rights to sporting events. Recent acquisitions include WNBA games for Ion and broadcast rights for the Vegas Golden Knights.

The move leaves Diamond’s Bally Sports Arizona, who lost the NBA’s Suns to a new OTA broadcast/streaming hybrid from Gray Television (games are airing on KTVK and Arizona Family/KPHE) and tech company Kiswe and the Diamondbacks, with no professional sports teams. Once known as Fox Sports Arizona when it launched in 1996, Bally’s RSN is set to close though an official announcement is yet to be made.

Once known as the original iteration of the Winnipeg Jets, the Coyotes have struggled with attendance and TV ratings for years since arriving in the desert in 1996. The team currently plays in a college facility at Arizona State until a new arena is built as they were evicted from their longtime home in suburban Glendale at the end of the 2021-22 season. A referendum to build one in Tempe failed earlier this year (there is a Wikipedia page dedicated to this for some reason), but the new multi-year TV deal signals the Coyotes plan to remain in the Phoenix area.

Further reading:

– Fox cancels Welcome To Flatch (B & C/Next TV)

– Former Miss USA Rachel Smith to anchor the weekend edition of ET (TVNewsCheck)

– X/Twitter might not be free for long (The Verge)


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