The Big Turmoil

Happenings at a Cincinnati radio station have taken over talk radio news in the entire Midwest, and Northeast Ohio is even involved…

FROM CINCY TO CHICAGO: The story of Clear Channel talk WLW/700’s schedule turmoil continues to grow in Cincinnati.

There’s word from Chicago that two hosts could be out at Tribune talk WGN/720 in the next month, as at least one now-former WLW host is headed in that direction.

Now-former WLW “Midday” host Mike McConnell told the Cincinnati Enquirer that he’ll start August 9th at 9 AM (Central) on the Chicago station – which may have been news to WGN’s current 9 AM host, John Williams.

The past few weeks, Williams has been doing a second show via ISDN for his former radio home, WCCO/830 in Minneapolis-St. Paul – which may be his only show after August 9th. Williams’ contract with WGN is reportedly about to expire.

The Chicago Sun-Times weighs in – saying McConnell’s presence at 9 AM may not be a done deal, according to an E-mail to the paper’s Lewis Lazare by WGN general manager Tom Langmyer:

“That would be odd coming from him (McConnell), because he doesn’t know what specific slot he’ll be working in, because it has yet to be determined.”

Then again, says the Tribune’s Lazare, McConnell could end up at 9 AM on WGN in August after all.

Then, there’s Steve Cochran. The WGN 1-3 PM host reportedly posted to his Facebook page that he didn’t expect to be on WGN after June 30th. (We’d link to the page itself, but it is not visible to those who aren’t on Cochran’s Facebook friends list.)

His time slot could well go to McConnell’s WLW colleague, Bill Cunningham, who listeners tell us was not heard on his Premiere “Live on Sunday Night” program this past Sunday, and hadn’t been heard on WLW itself most of last week.

Apparently, according to Enquirer TV/radio guru John Kiesewetter, that’s a punishment for openly meeting with former-WLWers-turned-Tribuners McConnell and programming executive Sean Compton just a short distance from Clear Channel’s Kenwood facilities.

Of course, Cunningham is prepping his potential “Big Willie” TV show for Tribune, and is pondering his radio future in the process.

Here’s a promo for “Big Willie’s” tapings from YouTube:

Kiesewetter notes that WGN-TV promoted Cunningham while he was taking in a Cubs game Friday afternoon, noting that “Big Willie” will be seen nationwide “this Fall”, but picturing a man who apparently wasn’t Cunningham.

This afternoon, WLW weekend host Gary Jeff Walker is filling in for what is still listed as Bill Cunningham’s early afternoon time slot.

It may mean nothing, but we haven’t heard Walker say he’s “in for Willie”…though Cunningham’s name and presence is still on 700WLW.com, and the station is still running his voiced commercials, at least on the Internet feed.

Meanwhile, McConnell’s own Premiere syndicated show, “The Weekend”, will revert to a rotation of guest hosts, and won’t continue with McConnell after next month – we hear McConnell did the Saturday “Weekend” show from an apparent different location, and of course, it wasn’t heard on WLW. (Kiesewetter, in the earlier linked article, reports hearing the show on WTVN/610 Columbus and WHAS/840 Louisville.)

WLW fill-in host Eric Deters – who wrote Cunningham’s biography – tells the Cincinnati Enquirer that he’s “happy” as a fill-in, and is concentrating on his “lucrative” law practice. He says he’s not in the McConnell/Cunningham replacement mix.

When you leave a station, the relationship can get strange sometimes.

Despite his own high-profile exit from WLW, we hear that former “Sportstalk” host Andy Furman (now 5-7 PM at crosstown WQRT/1160 “Real Talk”) has done Fox Sports Radio fill-in from Clear Channel’s Kenwood studios. The explanation there? Furman apparently had local support despite his firing, which came out of San Antonio…

AND A LOCAL TIE: And there’s at least one Northeast Ohio tie to all the news coming out of Cincinnati’s “Big One”.

OMW has confirmed that indeed, as we hinted, sister talk WTAM/1100 Cleveland weekender and former WKDD/98.1-WHLO/640 Akron voice Matt Patrick will be doing at least one fill-in on WLW, June 26th in the former “Weekend” time slot.

It’s our understanding that Patrick will be heard on WLW only, as the station is filling the former “Weekend” time slot locally with McConnell’s departure. WLW only aired the syndicated show because their own host was doing it.

It’s not known yet how any WLW fill-in or future work will affect Patrick’s WTAM time slot, which is now officially Saturdays 1-4 PM following the departure of 17th Congressional District candidate Jim Traficant. The June 26th WLW appearance would overlap with his regular WTAM time slot.

And it’s not known if Patrick is in the mix at all for the WLW weekday slots opened up by McConnell heading for Chicago, and Cunningham potentially following him.

We get the idea that evening host Scott Sloan, the 9 AM-noon fill-in right now, has the best shot at staying there…but there could be two openings at “The Big One”, assuming the station doesn’t pull over Rush Limbaugh from sister WKRC/550 (we consider that very unlikely). All of this is our own speculation, and is not based on even any rumors.

But Patrick mentioned “driving to Cincinnati” on his WTAM show on Saturday, so he’s likely talking with CC Cincinnati AM operations guru Darryl Parks in person. Either that, or he made a trip to Kings Island.

As for McConnell’s future home, and possibly “Willie’s” future home, there are plenty of WGN ties to Cleveland’s WTAM, of course…with WGN program director and former CC Cleveland programming VP Kevin Metheny being the most obvious one.

A quick look at the WGN schedule shows the station is still airing the Sunday night 6-9 PM show “Simon Rendezvous”, hosted by former WTAM weekender Simon Badinter…a French-born advertising executive who apparently has lived in both Cleveland and Chicago…

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One Response to The Big Turmoil

  1. Nathan says:

    Interesting thing is, John Williams pulls double shifts for both WGN and CBS’ WCCO-AM in Minneapolis, where he supposedly recently relocated to. It’s possible that he could be gone anyway, given the “live-and-local” credo at WGN.

    If both John Williams and Steve Cochran leave, cross Bill Cunningham off the replacement list. Willie will re-sign with WLW in the coming few days:
    http://news.cincinnati.com/article/20100614/ENT11/6150357

    It’s good for WLW, and for Cincinnati radio, although I admit, given Willie’s deep conservative stances and infamous mentioning of President Obama’s complete name at a 2008 fundraiser (as well as the originator of the “Great American” moniker that Hannity ultimately took and ran off with) … the fireworks of him landing in the President’s hometown would have been priceless.

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