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Pet guru Steve Dale to WLS-AM

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News/talk WGN-AM's (720) loss has now become news/talk WLS-AM's (890) latest gain. Citadel Broadcasting-owned WLS has picked up "Steve Dale's Pet World," which for many years had been part of WGN's Sunday lineup. But Dale and several other weekend hosts were dumped by WGN a couple of months ago when the station began revamping its host and programming lineups to create an edgier sound.

Dale's show will air from 2 to 3 p.m. on Saturdays on WLS, and an additional hour-long show will be available online on demand at www.wlsam.com. Dale's first live program is this Saturday. Dale also is the host of two nationally-syndicated programs and has been hosting local radio in Chicago for the past 12 years.

WLS Program Director Bob Shomper previously held that job at WGN before he jumped to WLS last fall. Shomper appears to be interested in retaining at WLS some of the hosts who for many years made WGN a popular destination for a large number of listeners -- though the demos of those listeners tended to skew older. Bill Moller, another former WGN weekend host who did a personal finance-oriented show, let go along with Dale, also has been auditioning for a berth at WLS.

If this is Kevin Metheny's idea of a clever publicity stunt, it doesn't bode well for his tenure as WGN-AM (720) programming director. Recently named to that position by WGN Vice President and General Manager Tom Langmyer, Metheny took to the WGN airwaves Friday afternoon to announce that the Tribune Co. news/talk radio station is offering its currently-vacant 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. radio show to Rod and Patti Blagojevich. WGN's early afternoon host slot was recently vacated by John Williams, who is now the station's morning drive anchor.

Metheny's stunt would be a lot cuter if he had gotten to it first. Problem is, WLS-AM (890) got there first a couple days ago when it offered Gov. Blagojevich a Sunday radio show if he would resign. To our knowledge, Metheny did not explicitly state the Governor had to resign to get the WGN gig, but the WGN programming director must have assumed Blagojevich couldn't effectively do both jobs at once, even with his wife helping out on the radio.

Metheny may have felt compelled to make the job offer to Blagojevich and his wife because the WLS offer, which was widely publicized, was initiated by WLS Programming Director Bob Shomper, whom Metheny replaced at WGN. WLS, which has recently added Mancow Muller and Pat Cassidy to its lineup of on-air talent, is locked in a battle for listeners and ratings with WGN. So Metheny must have been more than a little miffed when Shomper and WLS grabbed the headlines and pulled focus from WGN.

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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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