Roe Conn has signed a new contract at WLS-AM (890) that will keep him the host of the politically-conservative radio station's afternoon drive show at least through the end of 2011. Conn's new contract comes despite his show having shown little strength in recent months in the key 25 to 54 adult demo in the Arbitron ratings. In the most recent January ratings book, Conn ranked a disappointing 23rd in afternoon drive.
In announcing Conn's new contract, WLS-AM general manager Michael Damsky said Conn adds a "dimension of leadership and continuity" to the staff that is critical at any radio station. But one detail left out of the contract announcement was any mention of Conn's salary under the new deal. A source close to developments told us Conn's base salary in the new contract is in the neighborhood of $250,000 a year, but Damsky insists it is significantly more than that. When the radio business was in much better shape financially, Conn was one of Chicago's so-called million-dollar mouths in the industry. But that select group of radio talent has shrunk dramatically just in the past year.
Damsky and his new operations director Drew Hayes are working feverishly behind the scenes to give Conn's show a lift. They began by adding Cisco Cotto as Conn's co-host in January, but then quickly moved Cotto to a mid-morning slot. Now possible new co-hosts and/or sidekicks are being given a chance to work with Conn now, and in the near future, Conn is expected to have another partner to work with. Other tweaks and talent additions could come in the weeks and months ahead. But Damsky seems confident, at this juncture, that Conn's show will make a comeback in the ratings.