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Classic rock-formatted WLUP-FM (97.9) afternoon drive host Eddie Webb has gotten his big break. After a two-and-a-half-year stint with the station, he is leaving the Loop for New York, where he will be based to host a new nationally-syndicated classic rock show being developed jointly by Westwood One and VH1 that is set to launch on May 24. "It's a great break for Eddie," said WLUP general manager Marv Nyren, who also indicated the Loop has first dibs on Webb's show here in Chicago. Nyren said he will decide whether to pick it up after he listens to the pilot.

Webb's departure has precipitated some changes in WLUP's talent line-up. WLUP's current morning drive host John Kempf will shift to afternoon drive, which Nyren indicated is the time slot when more listeners now tune in to stations like the Loop. "Afternoons are the new morning drive," said Nyren. And the station's evening host Pete McMurray will move to the morning drive slot. All of these talent shifts will officially kick in on April 19. If Nyren picks up Webb's new classic rock show, that will become the Loop's new evening programming.

Should Emmis Communications-owned WLUP-FM (97.9) wind up losing the services of morning drive show host Jonathon Brandmeier to Tribune Co.'s WGN-AM (720), the classic rock station will have to come up with something pronto to replace its morning star. Sources say one possible option that could work -- at least for a while -- is a syndicated comedic radio show called "The Bob & Tom Radio Show," fronted by Bob Kevoian and Tom Griswold. Punchline magazine referred to them as "midwest radio gods."

For WLUP, the chief virtue of picking up such a show would be the cost -- quite low in comparison to retaining Brandmeier and his production team. The downside is that Chicago audiences typically don't respond well to syndicated product. But Rick Balis, the man taking over programming responsibilities at the Loop in the wake of Thursday's mass firings, knows the Bob & Tom show well, because it airs on the St. Louis station KSHE-FM (94.7) that Balis also programs.

PX00201_7.JPGIf WGN-AM (720) was hoping to spice up the proceedings by bringing in Garry Meier this week to try out for the mid-afternoon host slot vacated by John Williams, then station management appears to have gotten what it bargained for.
Meier on Thursday made reference more than once on air to President Barack Obama and what the radio talent called the "Ovaltine Office." For those who may not immediately recall what Ovaltine is, it is a dark chocolatey drink that was a favorite beverage for growing youngsters decades ago. But Ovaltine is not talked about -- nor drunk so much, we suspect -- nowadays. Reached late Thursday afternoon after his fill-in WGN gig ended for the day, Meier said the "Ovaltine Office" term he used was not meant as a show of disrespect for the President, but rather to suggest that Obama has re-energized the Office of the President. Others, of course, might have a different interpretation.

Meanwhile, Meier told us it felt great to be back on the air, and clearly, he would be happy to accept the mid-afternoon job at WGN should it be offered to him as early as next week. But as WGN management prepares to decide who will take over on-air duties in mid-afternoon, Meier may find himself competing down to the wire for that job with WLUP-FM (720) morning drive show host Jonathon Brandmeier. Meier said he and Brandmeier are friends. As of Thursday Brandmeier had not resigned with the Loop, and that station's on-going negotiations with the morning host could be impacted by another round of staff firings at WLUP on Thursday.

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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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