Chicago Sun-Times
Lewis Lazare follows Chicago media and marketing news

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CBS Radio Chicago's sports talk WSCR-AM (670) is bringing out some really big guns for its Business of Sports luncheon on Thursday, Sept.16. The panel will include Chicago Cubs owner Tom Rickets, Chicago Bears president Ted Phillips, Chicago Blackhawks president John McDonough, Chicago White Sox chief marketing honcho Brooks Boyer, and Northwestern University athletic director Jim Phillips. WSCR morning drive co-hosts Mike Mulligan and Brian Hanley will co-host the event, along with WBBM-AM (780) Bears radio analyst Tom Thayer. "Anyone interested in finding out more on the business aspect of professional sports would be hard pressed to find such a breadth of information anywhere else," said Rod Zimmerman, CBS Radio Chicago market manager.

Tickets for the event go on sale today, and are available by calling 312-729-3936. The cost is $45 per person which includes a three-course lunch and the panel session.

Bill Gamble has departed his dual post as program director for WUSN-FM (99.5) and WCFS-FM (105.9), both CBS Radio Chicago outlets. Gamble lasted about 10 months on the job, during which time WUSN-FM continued to be a top-10 performer in the 25-to-54 adult demo in the Arbitron ratings. WCFS-FM has shown some success in attracting more women listeners, but just days before his exit Gamble conceded more work needed to be done to get that station where it needs to be in the ratings. CBS Radio has been aggressively running ads promoting WCFS in recent months.

WCFS had been rumored in recent months to be the outlet CBS Radio might use to simulcast sports talk WSCR-AM (670) on the FM band, but sources within CBS Radio Chicago say there are no plans to do that on WCFS or any other CBS Radio FM outlet in the Chicago market at this time. Sources also said CBS Radio market manager Rod Zimmerman may opt to bring in separate program directors for WUSN and WCFS or possibly go with one PD for both stations again.

There's just about nothing -- and we mean NOTHING -- that has gone unshuffled in the Chicago radio business over the course of the past seven or eight months. And though the frequency of the shuffling has markedly decreased in recent weeks, it isn't gone altogether.

The latest rounds occurred Tuesday in the sales departments of four CBS Radio outlets in Chicago under the direction of Market Manager Rod Zimmerman. In essence, Zimmerman decided to merge what had been four discrete sales units repping four, differently-formatted radio stations into just two units, with each sales unit responsible for selling two radio outlets. Zimmerman has merged the sales forces of all-news WBBM-AM (780) and adult hits WJMK-FM (104.3) and made Mark Day the general sales manager in charge.

The previously separate sales teams repping country WUSN-FM (99.5) and adult contemporary WCFS-FM (105.9) were also combined, with Gabe Tartaglia the general sales manager in charge.

While the synergies of joining sales forces for WBBM and WJMK are less obvious, Zimmerman said that because of the strong core female demo for both WUSN and WCFS, the sales force merger made a lot of sense. Zimmerman believes the overall restructuring will offer greater efficiency and make for quicker responses to client needs. But for the local CBS Radio staffers involved, the best aspect of this latest restructuring is that it meant no reduction in forces -- a minor miracle, everything considered.

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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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