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RCN adds CLTV to lineup

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Tribune Co.'s CLTV will be available to RCN subscribers starting today. CLTV moved its operations to Tribune Co.'s WGN-Channel 9 in August, creating a shared newsroom with additional resources for covering stories. CLTV has been on the air for more than 16 years.

So now that Jonathon Brandmeier has signed on the dotted line to stay at WLUP-FM (97.9) for at least one relatively brief year, the question now is: what does news/talk WGN-AM (720) do to fill its vacant mid-afternoon host slot? Garry Meier has been mentioned repeatedly as one possible candidate for the job.

But now that WGN management has waited so long to fill that slot in the hopes they might somehow find a way to accommodate Brandmeier, the station finds the annual baseball season fast approaching. That could make naming a permanent replacement less urgent, because the 1 to 4 p.m. slot will be filled with ballgames on many weekdays over the next six months. So it would be hard for any newly-installed talent to gain quick traction if his or her show were repeatedly pre-empted by baseball.

Though negotiations have not always gone smoothly,WGN executives have certainly been talking to Garry Meier and his agent (who is also his wife) about a deal for the mid-afternoon gig. But they could wind up turning to an alternative talent that won't demand the big bucks a number of big names in the radio world could command not that long ago.

Executives running radio stations today, however, know the business can no longer readily support million-dollar salaries. But sources say Meier apparently isn't yet convinced he can't get a big-bucks deal out of WGN's bankrupt parent Tribune Co. If they feel they need to put a host in the mid-afternoon slot sooner rather than later, WGN executives could pass on Meier and go with another, potentially lesser name who is competent and can be had at a price WGN can live with. Stay tuned, as they say.

A sign of the times. Or, more specifically, of the Tribune Co., which on Friday, said it will shut down the television operations in its Washington, D.C. news bureau and eliminate 10 staff positions. The print reporters in the bureau, which now services all Tribune Co. publications, aren't affected by the TV operation shutdown. But Cissy Baker, who had overseen all operations inside the Tribune Co. Washington news bureau, is leaving. She will be succeeded by Kerry Luft, a Chicago Tribune associate managing editor who now becomes chief of the Washington News Bureau.

In an email to the Washington bureau staff, Bob Gremillion, Tribune Publishing's executive vice president, said the bureau will rely on "existing internal resources" and a news-sharing arrangement with CNN to service television stations in the Tribune Broadcasting stable with the necessary video feeds.

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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