Chicago Sun-Times
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There have been twists and turns along the way, but broadcast sources say CBS Radio Chicago's sports/talk WSCR-AM (670) is close to signing a new five-year contract to remain the exclusive radio home of the Chicago White Sox. A deal could be announced within a week.

Negotiations were protracted, in part because of rumored discussions among the White Sox and the team's owner Jerry Reinsdorf and Emmis Communications about the possibility of converting an Emmis radio property in Chicago to an FM sports outlet and putting the White Sox on that. But those talks, sources say, have collapsed, and the White Sox are now focused on getting a deal done with WSCR.

Meanwhile, it can't be ruled out that CBS Radio Chicago still could opt to simulcast WSCR on adult contemporary WCFS-FM (105.9) if efforts to boost ratings at WCFS are unsuccessful.

scottysmith1.jpgScotty Smith has been named afternoon drive host on CBS Radio Chicago's adult contemporary WCFS-FM (105.9), effective Aug. 16. Current afternoon host Jen Toohey will move to evenings from 8 p.m. to midnight.

When I heard Scotty on the air, he defined our vision for Fresh," said program director Jim Ryan. "He's young, energetic and has great interactive skills with his audience," added Ryan. "To live and work in such a great city like Chicago with a renowned broadcasting history is amazing," said Smith.

Smith most recently hosted mornings at Top 40 KHTT-FM in Tulsa, Okla. He was born in downstate Freeport and is a graduate of Northern Illinois University in DeKalb. He began his radio career in South Bend, Ind., at WNDV-FM, while working as a weekend/fill-in host at Chicago WTMX-FM (101.9) and other stations in the area.

Smith is the first of a couple of talent additions Ryan expects to make at WCFS, where he is working to boost the station's ratings. Ryan is also looking to add another host for morning drive. There was a slight delay in announcing Smith's hiring because Ryan and the new afternoon drive host were mulling whether to use Smith's middle initial in his on-air moniker. The decision was apparently made to drop the middle initial.

Brooke Hunter has been named the permanent host of middays from 9 am to 3 pm on CBS Radio Chicago's adult contemporary WCFS-FM (105.9) effective immediately. Hunter previously hosted evenings on the station. "Brooke is the consummate Chicago radio pro; having her experience and local knowledge on the air every day will be a huge asset for Fresh," said Jim Ryan, vice-president of adult contemporary programming for CBS Radio and program director at Fresh.

Ryan is trying to boost WCFS's profile in the Chicago market, and, in the process, its ratings. While CBS Radio Chicago market manager Rod Zimmerman waits to see what kind of success Ryan can achieve at WCFS, Zimmerman has dashed rumors the station might one day become the outlet for a FM simulcast of sports talk WSCR-AM (670). Several major markets in recent years have gotten an FM sports talk station, but Zimmerman has said repeatedly there is no need for that in Chicago because the WSCR signal is strong. Still some observers in the Chicago market believe the city will get a FM sports outlet. It's just a matter of time.

Jim Ryan has been named vice-president, adult contemporary programming, for the CBS Radio chain's 14 stations that have an adult contemporary format. In addition to his oversight responsibilities for all of CBS Radio's adult contemporary stations, Ryan will serve as hands-on program director for WCFS-FM (105.9) in Chicago and its sister station in New York.

Ryan will be responsible for increasing brand awareness and gaining listenership and ratings for CBS Radio's AC-formatted stations. "CBS Radio is known for being a destination where the industry's strongest programmers grow and thrive," said Ryan of his new role within CBS Radio. Ryan most recently was head of his own consulting company, Jim Ryan Media, where he advised top radio stations, including outlets in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Houston. In addition Ryan provided portable people meter analysis to influential clients in the talk radio industry

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.

Mike LeBaron exits WCFS-FM

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Mike LeBaron has been relieved of his duties as adult contemporary WCFS-FM (105.9) morning drive host, effective immediately, according to Bill Gamble, the station's program director. LeBaron had been in the job since 2007. While Gamble looks for LeBaron's replacement, midday host Rick Hall will take over LeBaron's former post as morning drive host. Gamble said he expects one of his yet-to-be-determined weekend talents to fill in for Hall middays starting Monday.

LeBaron's departure comes some two-and-a-half months after Gamble arrived as WCFS's new program director. Gamble also serves in the same capacity at country WUSN-FM (99.5), and both stations are part of the CBS Radio Chicago portfolio. Gamble declined comment on the reasons for LeBaron's departure, nor would he say what type of new talent he might be looking for to replace LeBaron. In the most recent August Arbitron ratings book, WCFS was in a tie for 19th place in the 25-to-54-year old demo in morning drive, and the station was in 21st place overall Monday through Sunday.

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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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This page is an archive of recent entries in the WCFS-FM category.

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