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Lewis Lazare follows Chicago media and marketing news

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At 1:04 p.m. Monday, CBS Radio Chicago's WJMK-FM (104.3) will switch to format featuring classic hits from the 1960's, '70's and '80's that management believes will improve the station's fortunes in the Arbitron ratings. The new format replaces an adult hits format that had been in place since 2005.

Well-known Chicago radio personalities Ed Volkman and Joe Bohannon are returning to the CBS Radio Chicago fold to anchor WJMK's new morning show from 5:30 to 10 a.m.
Eddie and Jobo, as they are more familiarly known, were famously dumped from CBS Radio Chicago's Top 40 WBBM-FM (96.3) three years ago to cut costs when the economic downturn hit the radio industry hard. The duo also had outgrown B-96's 18 to 34-year-old core audience demo.

At the time of their exit from B-96, Volkman and Bohannon were part of the city's elite corps of so-called "million dollar mouths" -- on-air talent that earned a million dollars or more a year for their services.

CBS Radio Chicago market manager Rod Zimmerman wouldn't discuss terms of WJMK's deal with Volkman and Bohannon, but their new salaries are believed to be considerably less than a million dollars a year.

Joining Eddie and Jobo at the newly-formatted WJMK will be Bo Reynolds, another former WBBM-FM jock who had a show there from 1987 to 1990. Reynolds will anchor afternoon drive from 3 p.m to 8 p.m.

Yet another WBBM-FM alumnus, Gary Spears will host mid-days on the new WJMK from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. starting March 21. Broadway Bill Lee, a talent from New York, will fill in until Spears starts. Spears was on air at B96 from 1982 to 1984 and again from 1990 to 1994. Zimmerman said another host will be named soon to anchor WJMK's evening show starting at 8 p.m.

Zimmerman said the new format will be "high energy, music intensive and locally driven." Added Zimmerman: "The CBS Radio network is very familiar with this format, and we have had a lot of success it in other markets."

Speaking as one, Eddie and Jobo said of their new gig in a statement: "To be rookies again, starting on a brand new radio station in our hometown is, well who said 'you can't go home?'."

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.

CBS Radio-owned sports/talk WSCR-AM (670) made its debut in HD this morning. It is being simulcast at 104.3 HD2, a HD channel attached to CBS Radio's adult hits WJMK-FM (104.3). Fans of WSCR who have HD-equipped receivers will now be able to hear Score programming with a much clearer sound. A source at WSCR said there are still no plans, however, to simulcast WSCR on WJMK, a move that would mirror what CBS Radio has done with some of its AM sports outlets in other markets, including Detroit.

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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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