WLS-FM mornings go in ‘different direction’ without Fogel
Robservations on the media beat:
- It’s over and out for Dave Fogel after more than two years as morning personality at oldies WLS-FM (94.7). He learned his fate when he got off the air at 10:30am Thursday. Part-timer Tom O’Toole is expected to fill in Friday alongside co-host Marti Jones, who’s staying on. “We’re going in a different direction in morning drive,” said Jan Jeffries, senior vice president of programming for Cumulus Media and program director of WLS-FM. No word yet on what’s next. Fogel, who joined WLS in March 2010 from KCKC-FM in Kansas City, previously worked in Chicago at hot adult-contemporary WTMX-FM (101.9) and classic rock WLUP-FM (97.9). In the latest Arbitron survey, his morning show tied for 13th place among listeners between 25 and 54 with a 2.7 percent share.
- Randy Michaels is telling his friends in the trade press that I’m wrong. When asked to comment on my report here Tuesday that GTCR, the private equity firm that bankrolled Michaels’ Merlin Media, was looking to sell its stations, Michaels issued the same statement to Radio Business Report and Radio Ink: “Merlin Media is not for sale.” And that’s all he wrote. Who knows? Maybe Randy hasn’t seen the prospectus. But I’m heartened by the lead story in Wednesday’s Inside Radio (“Merlin Media’s investors are ready to cut their losses and shop the four-station group”) and by veteran industry analyst Jerry Del Colliano who wrote in Inside Music Media: “When Feder says Merlin’s money people, GTCR, are ‘actively seeking buyers,’ I’m thinking I might believe a man who has been correct in his reporting for an entire career compared to a bloviating ex-swashbuckling radio dude.”
- Two more great reporters have left the Chicago Tribune for new careers. Joel Hood, who was a lead reporter on the Chicago teachers strike, resigned after five years to work as a real estate broker for Coldwell Banker in Chicago. “The [Sam] Zell era was not an easy one at the Tribune, but there are tremendous reporters, editors and photographers there who work hard every day and I was honored to work beside them for so long,” Hood told me. “But for me, it was time to try something else. We have an 18-month-old at home and I needed a little more flexibility in my work schedule.” Hood said he’s hoping to work on some freelance projects. And City Hall reporter Kristen Mack left the Tribune after three years to become press secretary for Cook County Board president Toni Preckwinkle. In a statement announcing Mack’s hire Wednesday, Preckwinkle said: “Stepping into an essential role in the administration, she brings a breadth and depth of experience to ensure the president’s office fully communicates and engages the press and the public.”
- Javier Salas, who lost his morning show last May when Univision Radio wiped out the entire full-time air staff of La Tremenda WRTO-AM (1200) in favor of network talk programming, is making a comeback. Starting October 15, the veteran Spanish-language broadcaster will be heard from 3 to 6pm Monday through Friday on Kovas Communications’ north suburban WCGO-AM (1590). “He’s going to be the only game in town — in the Spanish sense,” said Gus Rios, general manager of the time-brokered foreign-language station. “The playing field has just been leveled.”
- Considering how the Rev. Jesse Jackson and his family have controlled and manipulated Chicago media for decades, it’s astonishing to witness how they’ve turned on the local press since ailing U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. dropped out of sight. The latest spectacle was Tuesday night when Sandi Jackson, the Chicago alderman and wife of Jesse Jr., snubbed reporters at her fund-raising birthday party and reportedly referred to them as “jackals.” (All except ABC 7’s Cheryl Burton, who was granted an unenlightening interview.) The congressman’s health may be a private matter, but both husband and wife are both still elected officials who must be accountable to the public and, yes, to the jackals in the news media.