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Steve Cochran exits news/talk WGN-AM

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Host Steve Cochran has left Tribune Co.-owned news/talk WGN-AM (720), the station announced late Friday. And mid-morning host John Williams is staying. Cochran's contract expires next week. Cochran will be permanently replaced by former Cincinnati news/talk radio talent Mike McConnell, who is scheduled to arrive at WGN in early August. Until McConnell's debut, a series of guest hosts will fill the 1 p.m to 3 p.m. time slot on WGN that had been occupied by Cochran. Chicago Cubs baseball games also will air on some days.

For now, mid-morning host John Williams is staying on at WGN. But left unclear on Friday was exactly how the station will finally divvy up the 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. time period between Williams and McConnell. "Mike McConnell and John Williams . . .make a great team to take our listeners through the events of the day," said WGN general manager Tom Langmyer in a statement. Langmyer could not be immediately reached for further clarification.

When news of WGN's hiring of McConnell first broke earlier this month, McConnell himself had suggested he would be doing the show on WGN now hosted by John Williams, at least according to one Cincinnati media writer. But WGN management subsequently indicated McConnell couldn't know yet what he would be doing at WGN, because no decision had been made about where McConnell would go in the WGN line-up.

The departure of Cochran is certain to be another jarring adjustment for some longtime WGN listeners who have been upset by the seemingly unending series of talent and programming changes that have hit the station during the past 18 months. Tribune Co. CEO Randy Michaels and WGN program director Kevin Metheny have made numerous changes to give the station an edgier sound and attract a younger, 25 to 54-year-old demographic.

10 Comments

You had everyone! Young people were following in their parents footsteps - as they have for the past 40 years. We didn't start out listening to WGN in our 50's...........

What are you thinking?

Who are the people who initially dreamt up the station needed changing in the first place? Sam Zell?? Who hired this Langmeyer, and Metheny, and McConnell? Are these people Chicagoans? Did they know anything about WGN and the listening base? They are apparently the AXE MEN, people hired by others who did not want their hands sullied, and in the process of destroying the most viable radio station in the Midwest!!!

I will greatly miss Steve Cohran. The programming decisions made in these past 18 months have definitely redefined WGN - for the worse!!! Yes, some people that are left, like John Williams, are the only ones that make the station palatable. Jim Laski is just horrible for, oh, so many reasons, and Greg Jarrett tries to stir controversey where there is none - and during the morning drive, for pete's sake!!!

One could always count on a good discussion and laugh on WGN with varying and nice personalities who know how to laugh at themselves and with you-which is now only possible on John's
and Gary's shows. The on-air staff seemed connected and morale ran high. I can only imagine what the hallways there must be like now!!!

Spike O'Dell must have seen the writing on the wall and got out while the getting was good!

The reputation built over so many years of good programming and personable people will no longer carry you, and soon no one will want to work for you. Two men have seemingly destroyed what was once a great station.

Well finally it's time to find another radio station to listen to. We now have a guy in the morning that fires off questions and never listens to the answers. A guy who made sure we all know he can fly planes, shoot guns and above all how wonderful he is. Oh, by the way he is from California, NOT CHICAGO, he has no clue. Now we are getting a guy from Ohio. Is there a problem with the local talent here in Chicago, someone like Bob Sarott, or perhaps Steve Cochran? I hope the rest of the WGN family goes BK soon. Then the management can look for a job also. I really hope the present loyal listeners find somewhere else to get their information. This station has always had listeners with expendable incomes. That's why WGN was able to get the kind of dollars they got for advertising. Let's see what they get from the younger unemployed listeners that they are chasing.

what a terrible mistake!! Steve Cochran has been a beloved radio personality for so many loyal fans. Too much change is just too much change.Shame on management for disregarding the "older" generation. we listen to radio, too!
This fan will never tune in again, and will not miss WGN.
we love you, Steve.
Gail and Norm Cutler

Steve Cochran - I will miss what your brought to WGN! Your unique blend of humor, concern, wit and conversation with listeners and experts alike will be sorely missed. I hope you stay in Chicago at another station I can adopt (and which could maybe draw the remaining talents including John Williams, all of Sports Central and the remnants of a respected newsroom). Say, how about you guys building another station like the one Wally did? Certainly there is no longer a radio station that actually keeps fans around long enough to pass the tradition to the next generation the way WGN has done for so many years. Will Pat & Ron be the next to go? - Oh yeah, the Tribune no longer owns the Cubs - they can go wherever they want. Steve - bring 'em along!

Now can you do something about Mr. and Mrs Boring (Steve and Jonnie). Comic books, a dead guitarist, no-name music groups, Florida vacation stories, etc. It's time for them to go to some FM station somewhere.

I believe Cathy Colleran above has voiced most of my opinions relating to WGN's recent programming changes, including Steve Cochran. I loved Steve's ability to address serious issues by keeping them light! One of the reasons my wife and I loved to listen to Steve is that his humor was on the mark and always clean. Respectfully, I think WGN should pay the closest attention to those in their audience who actually have the disposable income to purchase their sponsor's products, and not go about lowering their standards to chase the "shock" values in their on-air personalities (Jim Laski) or the news. I have been reduced to listening to only John Williams and Pat & Ron (Go Cubs!). Bring WGN back to the days of Wally Phillips and Bob Collins and Spike O'Dell and Steve Cochran!

omg stev cochran was dam good i hope he take the black hawks with him!!!! john w go be for they get mancow lol they have gary he about two step above mancow..john W GET SPIKE STEVE C. CATHY&JUDY START YOUR OWN raido show ??? uck these people :]

So.... where 's he going, because I'm going with him.

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Lewis Lazare has written the Media Mix column for the Chicago Sun-Times for the past seven and a half years.

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