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Bill White has been named new program director at Tribune Co-owned WGN-AM (720). He starts Feb. 14. White replaces Kevin Metheny, who abruptly departed the station in November. White most recently was operations director at WBT-AM/FM and WLNK-FM in Charlotte, N.C. WGN general manager Tom Langmyer said of White: "He understands the personal bond that listeners have with WGN and will use his creativity, passion and experience to help make that connection stronger than ever." White was born in Oak Park and graduated with a BA in communications/journalism from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh.

PatHughes.jpgVeteran Chicago Cubs play-by-play announcer Pat Hughes has inked a new five-year contract extension with Tribune Co.-owned WGN-AM (720), the radio home for Cubs broadcasts. The new deal makes WGN the broadcast home for Hughes through the 2015 Cubs season. WGN-AM is conducting a search for a Cubs color commentator to replace Ron Santo, who died earlier this month. Hughes had shared the broadcast booth with Santo for the past 15 years.

The upcoming 2011 Cubs season will be Hughes' 16th season with WGN radio and the Cubs and his 29th season of broadcasting in Major League Baseball. "Pat's voice on WGN has spoken to the legion of Cubs fans across the Midwest and beyond for many years -- and we're very fortunate to have such a great broadcaster behind the microphone for a long time to come," said Tom Langmyer, WGN-AM president and general manager.

"Chicago is one of the world's great sports cities, Wrigley Field one of the most famous venues, and I'm just happy to be a part of it all," said Hughes. Prior to his career with WGN radio and the Cubs, Hughes was the radio play-by-play announcer for the Milwaukee Brewers for 12 years. He has been named Illinois Sportscaster of the Year five times and Wisconsin Sportscaster of the Year three times by the National Sportscasters Association. He is a finalist for the Illinois Sportscaster of the Year again in 2010.

Mike-McConnell-preferred-head-shot.jpgIs it a done deal that Mike McConnell will take over the 9 am time slot now occupied by John Williams at WGN-AM (720)?

At least a couple of Chicago media pundits apparently have concluded that is indeed the slot McConnell will fill at WGN-AM, at least based on remarks the Chicago-bound radio host made to Cincinnati Enquirer media writer John Kiesewetter in a column that ran Tuesday. "McConnell debuts 9 a.m. August 9 on WGN-AM he said" is the line in Kiesewetter's column that seemed to answer the question about what role the new host will play at WGN. But McConnell's assertion wasn't in actual quotes in Kiesewetter's column, though it suggests that is what McConnell said to the writer.

In any event, McConnell's remark to the Cincinnati writer was apparently news to WGN-AM general manager Tom Langmyer who, in an e-mail to us Wednesday, had this to say about McConnell's comment and his future role at WGN-AM: "That would be odd coming from him (McConnell), because HE doesn't know what specific slot he'll be working in, because it has yet to be determined." Of course, that said, it's still entirely possible McConnell could show up in the 9 am time slot on WGN in August, which could signal the end of the road for Williams at WGN. But a WGN spokeswoman said again Wednesday that the station "will be making an announcement within the next 2 months" about what McConnell will do at the station.

WGN-AM picks up a 2009 Marconi

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While some listeners would argue that change has not been good for Tribune Co.-owned news/talk WGN-AM (720), now the station's General Manager Tom Langmyer can just point to the 2009 Marconi Radio Award for best news/talk radio station to help silence his critics. Langmyer picked up WGN's award at a ceremony Thursday in Philadelphia. The Marconi Awards are handed out annually to honor excellence at radio stations and among on-air radio personalities.

WGN's 2009 Marconi Award comes after a period earlier this year when the station made a number of changes in its on-air talent lineup to help give the station an edgier profile. The changes, which upset a number of the station's longtime listeners, included the abrupt departure of mid-morning personalities Judy Markey and Kathy O'Malley.

The 2009 Marconi win is by no means WGN's first. In fact, the latest win marks the 10th time since the Marconi Awards were first presented in 1989 that WGN has been a recipient of one. The last win came as recently as 2007, when WGN was named major market station of the year.

It's official. As first tipped here Wednesday, WGN-AM (720) has named veteran Chicago radio talent Garry Meier as the host of the news/talk radio station's mid-afternoon show from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. He will begin his new show Friday, Apr. 3.

Meier is no stranger to tens of thousands of avid radio listeners. For 15 years he was half of one of the most successful of all radio on-air parings when he co-hosted the "Steve & Garry Show" with Steve Dahl, who is no longer on air. Meier also worked for eight years alongside Roe Conn on the "Roe & Garry Show."

In announcing Meier's hiring, WGN Vice President and General Manager Tom Langmyer described the new mid-afternoon host as "contemporary, smart, hip and fun." Most importantly, though, Meier is likely to attract a somewhat younger demo to WGN, which has a large, loyal, but somewhat older listener base.

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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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