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

Recently in WBBM-AM Category

George Ofman has joined news/talk WBBM-AM (780) as a sports reporter and anchor. Ofman most recently had been doing fill-in sports reporting on news/talk WGN-AM (720). He also previously worked for sports talk WSCR-AM (670). Ofman replaces Mark Grote who is joining WSCR to do sports updates on the "Mully and Hanley Show."

Pat Cassidy is coming back to all-news WBBM-AM (780) in the morning drive co-anchor job he left in July, 2008. Cassidy's first day back on the job with co-anchor Felicia Middlebrooks will be next Monday, Apr. 19. Cassidy left WBBM nearly two years ago for what he believed at the time would be a new career as a talk show host at news/talk WLS-AM (890), but he never found a slot there that he could comfortably fill. Cassidy and his fellow mid-morning host Mancow Muller were abruptly dropped from WLS in February.

At WBBM, Cassidy will replace John Hultman, a veteran WBBM anchor who came out of retirement to do morning drive after Cassidy's departure for WLS. Hultman will continue to do fill-in work at WBBM from time to time, the station said Monday.

All-news WBBM-AM (780) has a new managing editor Julie Mann. She takes over the responsibilities formerly handled by Drew Hayes, who left the station last month to become operations director at news/talk WLS-AM (890). Mann has been WBBM's suburban bureau chief since 2002. She first joined the station in 1997. WBBM program director Ron Gleason said Mann, among other things, will handle story assignments for the station's stable of reporters and various other managerial responsibilities tied to WBBM's day-to-day operations. Meanwhile, Gleason said WBBM is still perhaps a couple of months away from selecting a new permanent morning drive co-anchor to pair with Felicia Middlebrooks.

On Friday, all news WBBM-AM (780) will conduct its 14th annual Good Neighbor Radiothon to raise money for the Chicago Anti-Hunger Federation. Familiar WBBM hosts and reporters, including Felicia Middlebrooks, John Hultman, Bernie Tafoya, Bob Roberts and Dave Marsett, will broadcast live throughout the day from the Federation's warehouse distribution center on the city's west side.

All proceeds raised during the radiothon will remain in Chicago and be used here. The Chicago Anti-Hunger Foundation serves on average 150,000 hungry people each month. In 2008, the Federation decided to accept, purchase and distribute only healthy, nutritional food.

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.

At the just-concluded American Federation of Television and Radio Artists national convention in Chicago, there were a couple of developments of local interest. First, congrats to all-news WBBM-AM (780) Political Editor Craig Dellimore, who was elected AFTRA's national vice president. And AFTRA's highest honor, the George Heller Memorial Gold Card, was presented to local AFTRA Executive Director Eileen Willenborg, who is retiring from her job this year after more than 14 years of service. In the award citation, Willenborg was applauded for her efforts in getting passed a state visual media tax incentive and legislation that abolished the non-compete clause in Illinois broadcaster contracts. The George Heller award is bestowed on those who have made a significant contribution to AFTRA and its members.

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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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