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

Recently in WTMX-FM Category

The holidays were really good to Clear Channel Radio's WLIT-FM (93.9). And January wasn't bad either, according to the Arbitron ratings report released Monday.

WLIT lost a big chunk of the huge rating that catapulted it to the top in the key 25 to 54 adult demo in the holiday Arbitron book, but the station held on to enough of its massive holiday audience in the January Arbitron book to remain in a tie for fifth place in the rankings with all-news WBBM-AM (780), which had the Chicago Bears broadcasts and a lot of lousy weather to attract listeners during the month.

It appears many listeners who flocked to WLIT for holiday music weren't as quick to abandon the station this time around after the seasonal music stopped. As recently as the October book, WLIT was in a tie for 11th place.

But WLIT's numbers were trending downward at the end of the January book, so the station could end up several notches lower in the rankings when the February book is released.

Elsewhere, Bonneville International's three Chicago outlets all made it into the top 10, with hot adult contemporary WTMX-FM (101.9) in first place, classic hits WDRV-FM (971) in third and adult contemporary WILV-FM (100.3) in a tie for seventh place. Bonneville has sold all of its top-performing Chicago outlets to Hubbard Broadcasting in a deal that is expected to close in late April or early May.

The Mix has just introduced a new format from 8 pm to midnight, the station's weakest daypart, ratings-wise. The new format, called "U-Mix-It," allows listeners to interactively create the playlist each evening at the station's website. Station executives are calling the format an "experiment" that could disappear as quickly as it surfaced if it doesn't generate a significant ratings boost.

Both of the city's major news/talk outlets, Citadel Broadcasting's WLS-AM (890) and Tribune Co.'s WGN-AM (720) are struggling to gain traction. Despite the news hook of a mayoral race, WLS-AM wound up in 24th place overall in the 25 to 54 adult demo in January, down from a stronger 16th place showing as recently as November.

With the Citadel radio station chain said to be in talks to be acquired by Cumulus Media, WLS general manager Michael Damsky was making no predictions about the future on Tuesday. "I'm just happy to have survived the blizzard and the Bears," he said. WGN-AM was only marginally better than WLS in the January book, winding up in a tie for 22nd place overall among adults 25 to 54, with CBS Radio Chicago's adult contemporary WCFS-FM (105.9).

Observers continue to suggest WCFS could be a prime candidate for a simulcast of sports talk WSCR-AM (670), which proves the popularity of a sports format in a sports-obsessed town like Chicago. WSCR got a bump up to 12th place in the January book from 15th in the holiday book among adults 25 to 54. The station was in 2nd place in January in the target 25 to 54 male demo.

Hot adult contemporary WTMX-FM (101.9) morning drive co-host Eric Ferguson is one of 10 radio hosts who are finalists to serve as co-host for a day of the popular TV talk show "Live! with Regis and Kelly." The five temps will fill in for Regis Philbin while he is on vacation from January 24 to 28.

Viewers of "Live" were asked to nominate their favorite local radio host for the one-day job. After tens of thousands of nominations were received, "Live's" producers narrowed the field to the Top 100, which was then whittled to the 10 finalists. Beginning today at LiveRegisandKelly.com, viewers can vote for the five broadcasters they would like to see as co-hosts with Kelly Ripa. Voting will remain open until January 16, and the five winners will be announced on Jan. 17.

Paruch.jpgEffective Oct. 18, Brian Paruch will be the new sidekick and news anchor for Chicago's No. 1-rated morning drive radio show with Eric Ferguson and Kathy Hart on Bonneville International's hot adult contemporary WTMX-FM (101.9).

Paruch replaces Mark Suppelsa, who is leaving the station to concentrate on his job as an anchor at Tribune Co.-owned WGN-Channel 9. Suppelsa said he wanted to spend more time doing investigative reporting in addition to his anchor responsibilities for the station's early and late newscasts.

For Paruch, his new WTMX job is a dream opportunity. "I could not be more excited," said Paruch, 37, who is no stranger to his new full-time role on the "Eric & Kathy Show."

On numerous occasions Paruch had filled in for Suppelsa over the past two-and-a-half years. So Paruch already knows he feels at ease working with Ferguson and Hart. "From the first time I was on air with them, I just felt totally comfortable fitting into their conversation," said Paruch, who believes the show is so successful in part because "no one is trying too hard" to make it work.

In addition to filling in for Suppelsa on the "Eric and Kathy Show," Paruch had been a freelance host and sports updates talent for the past four-and-a-half years on CBS Radio Chicago's sports talk WSCR-AM. Though Paruch said he likes to talk about a lot of subjects, sports is a passion and another reason he's going to like his new job. "Eric (Ferguson) knows as much or more about sports than I do," said Paruch. In announcing Paruch's departure from the Score, program director Mitch Rosen called Paruch a "tremendous team player" who will be missed at the station.

Eric Ferguson said he likes Paruch's versatility. "Brian can handle a lot of different aspects of our show, and his familiarity with the program will make the transition from Mark to him relatively seamless," added Ferguson.

Paruch began his radio career in the early 1990's at WKQX-FM (101.1), and among various jobs he held during his eight years at the station was a gig as sidekick for Mancow Muller. Paruch also previously worked at a hard rock station known as WZZN-FM, which changed call letters and format to become the popular oldies station WLS-FM (94.7). Paruch was born in Blue Island, grew up in Roselle, and attended the University of Illinois.

sharp mug.jpgPatrick Sharp of the Chicago Blackhawks has found a berth on the city's No. 1-rated morning drive show fronted by Eric Ferguson and Kathy Hart on WTMX-FM (101.9). The segment, appropriately called "Sharp Attack," will air every Thursday morning at around 8:40 a.m. for the duration of the hockey season. And that season could be extended quite a bit, as the Hawks are expected to be in the playoffs for the Stanley Cup.

In his first chat with Eric and Kathy, Sharp talked about the team's recently-returned Olympic players, and Ferguson speculated about what caused the Blackhawks to perk up in the third period of Wednesday's home game against the Edmonton Oilers, which the Hawks eventually won. Ferguson said he thought the coach might have thrown a chair in the locker room to get the team motivated for the decisive third period. But Sharp said what actually got the team fired up was seeing a big image of Ferguson on the United Center Jumbotron. Ferguson then confirmed that he indeed attended Wednesday's game and that a shot of him flashed on the big screen.

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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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