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Simon Badinter says au revoir to WGN-AM and the Chicago radio market

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French American talk show host Simon Badinter offered Chicago radio listeners a touch of the exotic. But they never fully embraced what he was offering for the nearly two years he hosted "Simon Rendezvous" on WGN-AM (720).

So Badinter has amicably parted ways with WGN and moved his show to WTKK-FM in Boston. He has only done a couple of Sunday shows there and has yet to sign any long-term contract with the station.

While low ratings is the official reason for Badinter's show being cancelled on WGN-AM, there were other contributing factors.

For a station that prides itself on having a Chicago focus, Badineter brought an unabashedly worldly viewpoint to his Sunday evening "Simon Rendezvous." Though his day job as an advertising executive with the Paris-based Publicis Groupe kept him in Chicago often, he was also a jet-setter, and proudly so. WGN management did not think his show was as Chicago-centric as it needed to be to appeal to WGN listeners.

Then there was the matter of Badinter's style on air. "I was probably too direct, too abrasive, too confrontational, when the station aims for a tone that is more friendly and agreeable," said Badinter, who was born and raised in France, but became an American citizen on Jan. 7.

"I think the people of Chicago don't want to be disturbed, but I gave it my best shot and the topics I talked about were the right ones, insisted Badinter, who nonetheless said -- more than once -- that he was grateful for the opportunity to work at WGN.

In addition, Badinter was stuck in a difficult time slot at WGN where he could get little traction because his show was often preempted by Chicago Blackhawks games.

Badinter's replacement on Sunday evenings won't be decided until the new WGN-AM program director Bill White arrives in mid-February. But sources at the station said it most likely will be a talent that knows Chicago. WGN-AM wants to use weekends to test and develop hosts that could eventually move to more high-profile time slots.

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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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This page contains a single entry by Lewis Lazare published on January 26, 2011 4:07 PM.

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