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

Recently in WVAZ-FM Category

Darlene Hill is the new co-host of WVAZ-FM's (102.7) "Chicago Speaks," replacing Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mary Mitchell, who departed in January. Hill, who started her new job on Apr. 11, will co-host the show with the radio station's news director Ty Wansley.

A general assignment reporter for Fox-owned WFLD-Channel 32, Hill is a three-time Emmy Award winner and a recipient of the Edward R. Murrow Award. "I can't be more excited about a journalist of Darlene's caliber joining our line-up," said Derrick Brown, director of urban programming for Clear Channel Radio Chicago. "She has built a strong reputation of asking tough questions and has an uncanny way of getting to the crux of issues affecting our community," added Brown.

"Chicago Speaks" is the only public affairs call-in community forum serving Chicago's African-American audience on a commercial FM radio station in the city. The program, which debuted in January, 2007. airs from 6 am to 8 am on Sundays.

Steve Harvey is going to be one busy man come next fall. In addition to hosting his syndicated radio talk show, which airs in morning drive on urban adult contemporary WVAZ-FM (102.7) in Chicago, Harvey has inked a deal to host the nationally-syndicated "Family Feud" game show when it begins its 12th season next fall. "With his talent, authenticity and innate ability to connect with audiences from all walks of life, Steve exemplifies the spirit and appeal of 'Family Feud'," said Cecile Frot-Coutaz, CEO of FremantleMedia North America, which produces "Family Feud."

Harvey began his successful stand-up comedy career in the mid-1980's, which led to a long stint as host of "It's Showtime at the Apollo," as well as multiple television sitcoms, including "Me and the Boys" on ABC and "The Steve Harvey Show on the WB. The "Steve Harvey Morning Show" is currently heard daily by over 7 million listeners in over 64 markets.

Troi Tyler back at WVAZ-FM

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Troi Tyler.jpgClear Channel Radio Chicago said Thursday that Troi Tyler is returning to WVAZ as host of the "Quiet Storm" on Sundays from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. She will also serve as fill-in host for other dayparts. Tyler's tenure with Clear Channel Radio Chicago dates back more than 15 years ago, when she was host of "Whispers in the Dark" on sister station WGCI-FM (107.5), before moving to WVAZ to host middays earlier this year.

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.

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.



About the blogger

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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