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

Recently in WGCI-FM Category

Urban contemporary WGCI-FM's (107.5) midday host Loni Swain has scored a nice coup. She will interview President Barack Obama live via telephone from the White House at 12:43 p.m. today. The interview is said to be about the President encouraging listeners to get out and vote, rather than about pushing one or more of the candidates he supports in various races. A WGCI spokeswoman said Obama chose to go live on election day on WGCI because he knows the station and is comfortable making an appearance on it. The interview will air several more times during the day, according to the WGCI spokeswoman.

Marc Washington has been named executive producer of "Tony Sculfield & the Morning Riot" on urban contemporary WGCI-FM (107.5). Most recently, Washington was the local producer for "The Doug Banks Show" on WVAZ-FM (102.7) and served as programming assistant and guest mixer for the station.

Washington joined WVAZ in 2005, and has worked in a variety of positions there. A native of Chicago's south side, Washington has owned his own DJ/production company, Marcomusik, since 1999. "Washington is a unique talent with a brilliant programming mind," said Derrick Brown, Clear Channel Radio Chicago director of urban programming, adding, "he is the one to cultivate and harness 'Tony Sculfield & the Morning Riot' content and deliver it in a concise, compelling manner."

Clear Channel Radio Chicago has formed what it calling a "one-stop shop" for advertisers to capitalize on the buying and listening power of the African-American consumer. Effective Nov. 6, the Clear Channel Chicago Urban Network will coordinate ad sales on three Clear Channel outlets -- WGCI-FM (107.5); WVAZ-FM (102.7) and WGRB-AM (1390). "Each station targets and influences a different segment of the population," said Earl Jones, president and market manager of Clear Channel Radio Chicago. Together, the three stations reach more than 1.2 million African-Americans weekly.

Advertisers who purchase the Clear Channel Chicago Urban Network will receive a cross-platform of marketing opportunities, including radio, digital and events. "Clear Channel is more than radio -- we are a media and entertainment company," explained Jones. Darlene Park will be general sales manager for the Urban Network, and Derrick Brown will assume the role of director of urban programming for the three urban properties.

Rick Vaughn.jpgDerrick Brown and Rick Vaughn have been named social media directors at Clear Channel Radio Chicago effective immediately. Brown will oversee social networking for WVAZ-FM (102.7), WLIT-FM (93.9) and WGRB-AM (1390), in addition to his duties as WVAZ's program director. Vaughn will head up social networking for WKSC-FM (103.5), WGCI-FM (107.5) and Mega 95.5, while continuing to serve as program director of WKSC.

As directors of social media, Brown and Vaughn will be responsible for using new media and social networking to extend station brands across online communities, including Facebook, YouTube and Twitter among others. Brown is the former assistant program director and mid-day host at WLIT. Vaughn previously was program director of Clear Channel's WIOQ-FM (102.1) in Philadelphia.

WGCI-FM imports two new hosts

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Loni Swain Photo.JPGUrban contemporary WGCI-FM (107.5) has added two new hosts to its talent lineup effective July 6. Loni Swain will host mid-days from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays. Originally from New Orleans, Swain most recently hosted "Loni's Love Lounge" on Foxy 95.5 in St. Louis. Consuella Williams will host evenings from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. weekdays. Williams, a New Orleans native, previously was at WPEG-FM in Charlotte, N.C., where had had hosted "Grindtime" since 2006. WGCI Program Director Kris Kelley said the two new hosts will "bring a unique flair and familiarity to WGCI-FM." Flair maybe. But we're not sure about the familiarity. Neither of the new additions has worked in Chicago, so they both have a lot of learning to do, it would seem.

More layoffs at Clear Channel Communications in Chicago on Tuesday. Among those staffers shown the door today are Jeff Murray, who was known as Smash on WKSC-FM's (103.5) "Drex in the Morning" morning drive show. In addition to serving as music director for the show, Murray also was Drex's sidekick and engineer. Also let go were Troi Tyler and Irene Mojica from WVAZ-FM (102.7) and overnight host Erica Campbell at WGCI-FM (107.5).

The ax also fell on Bill Cochran, who was creative director at Clear Channel's smooth jazz WNUA-FM (95.5). One source described Cochran, who also filled in on occasion for on-air talent, as one of the station's most recognizable voices. Cochran had worked at WNUA for more than two decades.

With Cochran having been let go, a source said WNUA had lost the last of its "heritage voices." Cochran's departure also fueled speculation that Clear Channel might be preparing to introduce a new format at WNUA, which has not proved a huge moneymaker for Clear Channel in recent years. Some observers familiar with the Chicago radio market believe it might make sense for WNUA to go country. CBS Radio's WUSN-FM (99.5) is the only major country-formatted station now operating locally.

A Clear Channel spokeswoman said Tuesday that the company had to adjust its business to the realities of the current economy and advertising market. She added the layoffs on Tuesday "complete a process begun in January" when Clear Channel laid off a number of staff.

PX187_3D18_7.JPGIt's not hard to fathom what parent Clear Channel Communications was thinking when the broadcasting behemoth made the abrupt decision Monday to dump the syndicated "Tom Joyner Morning Show" at its urban adult WVAZ-FM (102.7) and replace it with the syndicated "Steve Harvey Morning Show," which had been airing on sister Clear Channel urban contemporary station WGCI-FM (107.5).

The reason for the switch can be summed up in two words: young adult. In a press release announcing the changes, Clear Channel dropped in ample hints that it wanted to pull in a younger morning demographic on WVAZ. The release noted that the Harvey show is the number-one-rated syndicated morning show in the top 50 metro markets among young adults 18 to 34 and adults 18 to 49, as well as women 25 to 54. As has often been stated, advertisers covet the younger demos, and that clearly is what the Harvey show, with its heavily comedic bent, is in business to deliver. And with advertising sharply dropping off at nearly every radio station nationwide, managers at every station are doing what they must to pull in advertising.

Though Joyner has a long history here in the Chicago market, his syndicated show appealed, for the most part, to an older listener base. In a email sent to his fan base on Monday, Joyner wrote that "we got where we are by knowing who you are, what you want and by Super Serving our audience." Joyner also suggested in his email just how important the Chicago market was to his syndicated show. "Chicago is home, it's the Mother Ship, the Flagship, all those words that mean it is the place that launched the TJMS," he wrote.

Meanwhile, Clear Channel is expected to announce by week's end what will repalce Harvey on WGCI. It's likely to be another show popular with young adults.

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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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