Some days, there is retribution.
I thought about this as I read about Kevin Metheny losing his job as program director at WGN radio in Chicago. In the two years since this poisonous man arrived, I have seen many on-air personalities go away or become underused. I’ve listened to loud mouthed antagonizers who only wanted to work up controversy and people to call in, per the directive of Metheny. If what ever viewpoint the host were advocating turned out to be the truth, well, that was the gravy.
There was a Jerry and a Sean and a French guy who seemed to always be yelling but gave out very little to connect with them. I was not happy when the pet guy, the garden guy and any women fill-in hosts disappear from the station.
I was angry when likable smart-ass John Williams lost his morning slot that he had fought a bloody fight to win. The smarmy and condescending Greg Jarrett from San Francisco has grown on me but I still find him arrogant at times. His move of bringing former shock jock Garry Meier was the one good move as Garry’s audience has become a good fit for WGN and he was willing to give props or criticisms to others hosts.
I was furious when mid-morning hosts, Kathy and Judy, lost their show. Talk about controversial, I am not sure how much farther these ‘girlfriends’ could have gone. Their segment, “Sex Thursday,” could make just about anyone blush. The segment on injuries during sexual gymnastics had me rolling. They were the first of the ‘popular’ hosts to get the boot. Dave Kaplan was gone next and then Steve Cochran was shown the door.
The man, who was named “Pig Virus” by former employee Howard Stern, wasn’t done yet. He signed convicted bribe taker Jim Laski as a fill-in host who eventually got an evening slot. Laski was neither terrible nor brilliant but here he was, filling in during the day as needed and coming back for his show at night. Suddenly, young and hip Nick Digilio was persona non-gratis. And scholarly Milt Rosenburg was shifted later into the night. Let’s not forget the ouster of Bob Sirott, a very interesting personality.
That was not Metheny’s worst move. The worst was bringing in Mike McConnell from Cincinnati. Jarrett is arrogant but McConnell took it up a notch and regularly made comments that offended the female half of the audience. I took to turning off the radio as soon as his show started in the morning. I would not put it on at my office for the rest of the morning either.
I may not have been the only one because I would hear promos in which McConnell kind of, sort of, tried to make amends. For me, the damage was done and the station was not getting turned on during that time period.
As of last Thursday, Pig Virus has been shown the door after his mentor, Randy Michaels, was forced to resign as CEO of the Tribune Company. Jim Laski was forced out as well. The question becomes what to do to regain the reputation and mend the hearts of the ‘legacy’ listeners.
If it was me, I would get rid of that sexist McConnell character. Move Williams back into that slot. Find a great new host or move in Digilio for that post-lunch slot. Keep Jarrett and Meier as they do good work and connect with the audience.
As for the evening slot – do not go back to sports but find people who want to talk about the light aspects of life. Have fun with it and bring Milt back to 9 p.m.
Metheny may have tried to destroy the 50,000 mother lode station but not everything he did was completely evil. Take what is viable and re-build. Work on rebuilding a trust with the listeners. Oh, and do not mess with Rick Kogan. That Sunday morning dose of arts and entertainment keeps me going all week.