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Brotha' Fred.jpgLess than 72 hours after the abrupt exit of DreX as morning drive host, Clear Channel Radio Chicago's Top 40 WKSC-FM (103.5) said it will launch a new morning drive show Jan. 17 featuring two new hosts -- Brotha Fred (given name Christopher Frederick) and comedian David L. (given name David Livingston), along with Angi Taylor, who had been DreX's sidekick.

For the past five years, Brotha Fred and David L. fronted a morning drive show called "Brotha Fred's AM Mayhem" at Clear Channel's WIBT-FM (96.1) in Charlotte, N.C. "Brotha Fred had been on our radar for a long time," said WKSC program director Rick Vaughn. "Brotha Fred has a unique way of using his personal experience to relate to his core listeners," explained Vaughn. WKSC's core audience is the 18 to 34-year-old demo.

Both Brotha Fred and David L. will relocate to Chicago for the new show, but also will continue to prepare a morning show for WBIT. "They will not be on air in Charlotte while they are doing their show in Chicago," added Vaughn, who said he was not aware of the mechanics of how Brotha Fred and David L. would continue to provide content for a morning show in Charlotte while based in Chicago.

In announcing the new morning drive line-up, WKSC executives continued to offer no explanation for their decision to part ways with DreX in the middle of a new five-year contract that reportedly paid him between $300,000 and $450,000 a year.

But sources in the local radio industry said Clear Channel may have become increasingly concerned about competitor CBS Radio Chicago's WBBM-FM (96.3). WBBM's morning team -- J.Niice and Julian -- had been soundly beating DreX in recent months. In the November Arbitron book DreX's morning show was ranked ninth in the 18 to 34 demo, while WBBM-FM's morning show ranked second. DreX was ranked third when he signed his new contract. "We've got our work to do," said Vaughn.

DreX is out at Clear Channel Radio Chicago's Top 40 WKSC-FM (103.5). Drex's exit comes during the second year of a five-year contract that he signed with the station in early 2009. Also gone with him are his two sidekicks Mel Tovar and Angi Taylor. Sources said DreX (whose given name is Kevin Buchar) was making between $300,000 and $450,000 under terms of the five-year deal -- a generous arrangement in an industry where three-year contracts for on-air talent are the norm.

The reasons for DreX's abrupt exit Tuesday are unclear. "This is radio," said one source, suggesting that on-air talent can be dispensed with at any time for any number of reasons. A Clear Channel spokeswoman said it is the company's policy not to comment on personnel issues. She said other WKSC talent would rotate in the morning drive time slot until a new morning show host is announced. WKSC's evening host Special K hosted the morning show on Wednesday.

DreX's ratings were certainly acceptable, although he was not the top-ranked morning talent in the 18 to 34-year-old demo that was the show's target demographic. In the most recent November Arbitron ratings book, "DreX in the Morning" ranked ninth among morning drive shows in the 18 to 34-year-old demo. His numbers have slipped however. DreX ranked third in the 18 to 34-year-old demo when his current contract was signed in early 2009.

When Clear Channel brought DreX to Chicago in 2003 from San Antonio, he was a hit in that Texas market. And Clear Channel Chicago management believed he could replicate that success in Chicago on its Top 40 outlet. In fact, Clear Channel Chicago had enough confidence in his abilities to allow him to do a talk-focused morning drive show on a station that otherwise is devoted to playing Top 40 hits around the clock.

Jordan Photo.jpgRyan Gorman, who goes by the name "Jordan" on air, is the new afternoon drive host on Clear Channel Radio Chicago's Top 40 WKSC-FM (103.5), effective Oct. 4. Gorman's show will air weekdays from 4 to 8 p.m. He replaces Ty Bentli, who is transferring to Clear Channel's KBIG-FM in Los Angeles. "Jordan is a tremendous talent and will be a perfect enhancement to 103.5 KISS-FM's stellar on-air team," said Rick Vaughn, WKSC program director. Gorman said of his new role at WKSC: "Chitown is going to be insane. Special thanks to my Jacksonville radio family for four great years."

Jordan most recently was afternoon host and executive producer at WFKS-FM in Jacksonville, Fla. He has also worked at radio stations in Tampa, Fla.; Hartford, Conn., and New Haven, Conn.

Ty Bentli, the popular afternoon drive host at Clear Channel Radio Chicago's top 40-formatted WKSC-FM (103.5), has accepted a new job with Clear Channel Radio Los Angeles, according to sources familiar with developments. A formal announcement is expected Wednesday.

Bentli, who arrived at KISS-FM in October, 2006, will stay at the station until his replacement is found. WKSC will conduct a nationwide search for Bentli's successor. Bentli's exit comes as WKSC-FM has just completed its first full quarter ever as the top-rated radio station in the Chicago market in the 18-to-34-year-old demo the station targets. Bentli also was the No. 1-rated afternoon drive anchor in the 18-to-34-year-old demo in the just-released June Arbitron ratings book.

WKSC-FM's (103.5) popular "Drex in the Morning" morning drive show is now a channel on Clear Channel Radio's iHeartradio iPhone app. Clear Channel Radio said Tuesday that the new channel was added in response to strong demand from listeners who wanted the convenience of listening to the show on their iPhone and smart phone devices. To date, the iHeartradio app has more than 4.8 million unique downloads. Users of the app can stream broadcasts from 400 radio stations, as well as digital-only channels such as Pride, Christina Aguilera Radio and Eagles Radio. "Drex in the Morning" typically reaches nearly one million radio listeners per week.

Mel T.jpgClear Channel Radio Chicago's top 40 WKSC-FM (103.5) has inked new mult-year deals with Mel T and Angi Taylor, co-hosts of the "Drex in the Morning" show. No surprise that Clear Channel would want to keep this popular radio team together. The show was ranked third in Arbitron's November ratings book among persons 18 to 34, its target demo.

WKSC-FM (103.5) fill-in host Special K, not to be confused with the cereal, has been permanently appointed night shift (8 p.m. to midnight) host at the Clear Channel Radio Chicago Top 40 station. Special K had been filling in since Silly Jilly left the station last month. Special K has been at WKSC two years, working weekend shifts, production and doing other fill-in work.

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.

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.



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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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