Off the beach: WIND may carry Cochran as afternoon driver
Steve Cochran, whose Chicago radio career may have been the most prominent casualty of last year’s talent purge at news/talk WGN-AM (720), is poised to make a comeback.
But this time around, he’s expected to compete against the Tribune Co.-owned station where he spent 10 years building a large and loyal following before he was forced out in June 2010.
Nothing is official yet, but if all goes as planned, Cochran will soon be turning up in an afternoon slot on Salem Communications’ news/talk WIND-AM (560). He’d be joining a Monday-through-Friday lineup that includes local hosts Big John Howell and Amy Jacobson in mornings and syndicated shows the rest of the day.
Since January, Cochran, 50, has been on the air in St. Louis, where he hosts two daily shifts — from 10am to noon and from 6 to 9pm — on KTRS-AM, billed as “The Talk of St. Louis.” He’s expected to continue broadcasting those shows from Chicago, while also pursuing his stand-up comedy engagements.
Except for a one-year stint in Detroit in the late ’90s, Cochran has been a Chicago radio fixture since 1993. His longest run was the decade he spent in a variety of shifts at WGN, where his rise to morning drive seemed inevitable until he fell out of favor with management — and vice versa.
“One answer may be politics, but I believe it was largely because I spoke out about what I was witnessing,” Cochran told me in a no-holds-barred interview a few days after he left WGN. “I didn’t like what they were doing to the radio station and let them know that with regularity. They want people who will never ask questions and just do as they are told.
“In my opinion, the reason [former Tribune Co. CEO] Randy Michaels & Co. have failed, are failing, and will fail here is because they have no respect for the audience. They simply don’t seem to care what the listeners think. Imagine that attitude in any other business,” he said. (Less than four months later, Michaels and his minions — including WGN program director Kevin Metheny — were out.)
With Cochran headed to WIND, the right-wing talk station has nowhere to go but up: In Arbitron figures released this week, it tied for 38th place overall with a 0.5 percent audience share. Its afternoon-drive numbers were only slightly better, with the station ranking 31st with a 0.9 share.