A rude ‘Pig Virus’ infects WGN Radio | Robert Feder reports


A rude ‘Pig Virus’ infects WGN Radio

Everything that’s gone wrong at WGN-AM (720) in the past year can be summed up in two words: “Pig Virus.”

medium_kevin

Kevin Metheny

No, we’re not talking H1N1 here. “Pig Virus” is the nickname Howard Stern gave long ago to Kevin Metheny, the man in charge of programming at the Tribune Co.-owned news/talk station since January.

Under Metheny, an acolyte of Tribune Co. operating boss Randy Michaels (and one of nearly two dozen Clear Channel alumni Michaels brought in with him), WGN has shown disdain or disregard for listeners who felt a unique bond with the station and its personalities.

There was the needlessly ham-fisted way Kathy O’Malley and Judy Markey were run off the air after a phenomenal 20 years as midday duo. (Since they’re still being paid every penny of their contracts, what was so urgent that WGN couldn’t let them finish out as they’d planned and retire this spring?) There was the hiring of morning host Greg Jarrett, a capable broadcaster but one who’d never worked a day in his life in Chicago, to step right into the No. 1 job in local radio. (Jarrett almost lost me for good his first day on the air when he mispronounced “Devon Avenue.”) And there have been numerous other personnel and programming moves — in afternoons and on weekends, especially — that simply boggle the mind.

As Metheny continues to overhaul WGN’s programming with a bag of tricks he acquired working in some 16 markets over his career, the station’s hallmarks of honesty and truthfulness slowly are being replaced by posturing and attitude. If you listen carefully, you can hear it in the way some hosts stake out ludicrous positions or go off on phony tirades to provoke callers. (Metheny calls it “reality through a fun house mirror.”)

Unhappy staffers describe his management style as bipolar. “He has these bizarre mood swings where he’ll be incredibly vicious and mean one minute and then shut down and not talk to anyone,” said one insider. What some resent most is Metheny’s micromanaging, second-guessing and hectoring — precisely the type of behavior that earned him that unfortunate nickname when he butted heads with Howard Stern as program director of New York’s WNBC-AM in the early 1980s.

“He would memo me all these idiotic rules and ideas he had,” Stern recalled in his 1993 best-selling memoir Private Parts. “He came up with this complicated terminology to make it sound as if he knew something, but it was all mystification. Any idiot could go into radio. But he knew the vocabulary.”

Stern’s words are still true today. Here are some highlights from Metheny’s barrage of directives to WGN personalities:

  • A memo banning the use of two words: ” ‘Coming Up.’ Can you possibly do without these two words? Can you possibly find a less hackneyed, transformed-by-20th-Century-Media-to-wallpaper vocabulary with which to tantalize your listener into sharing some 21st Century time with you?”
  • A memo banning the use of one word: “Please dispense with the word ‘degrees’ when delivering forecasts and currents. I’m pretty sure we can be comfortable the temperature measurement increment is almost always degrees. Seldom is the temperature measured in Aardvarks, Ford Mustangs or Belly Button Lint.”
  • A memo about giving away tickets: “Don’t do it. As discussed, tickets are accounting devices. The thing of emotional value is the EXPERIENCE. . . . I will cancel winning events in programs I hear referring to them in an inside out, hackneyed, old school lexicon. STOP selling the little pieces of paper. Sell the SWEAT!”
  • A memo on the exact words to use when introducing news, weather and traffic reports: “No ‘creeping and beeping,’ no ‘how are the cars,’ no ‘thunder boomer report,’ no ‘let’s check the roads,’ no need to improvise, expand, amend, extend, truncate, evolve, devolve or otherwise improve. Perhaps we will get to that later. For now, do it this way. Do it only this way. Don’t do it any other way. No need to personalize, customize or otherwise revise. Regardless of time of day or day of week. Regardless of the magnitude of the digits on your W-2. Do it this way. When it’s time to do it another way, someone will let you know.”
  • A memo setting forth Metheny’s philosophy on “takes” (or points of view hosts should adopt in order to provoke listeners): “Truthfulness is only an added benefit when it happens to drop into your lap,” Metheny wrote. “Truthfulness in takes optional. This is SHOW BIZ, not a court of a law.”
  • The same memo, threatening dire consequences for disobedience: “I am sorry that is necessary to be unpleasant about this. If you’re struggling because you don’t understand, then please ask for help or we’ll presume you’re just unwilling to comply with the coaching. If you understand the concept and you’re noncompliant, there can only be two reasons: you’re unwilling or you’re unable. The reason doesn’t matter. The end result will be the same.”
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Robert Feder

Other posts byRobert Feder

04

11 2009

by Robert Feder
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50 Comments

50 Comments Add Yours ↓

  1. TK #
    11.04.2009 01:49

    1

    You gotta talk more about this, Rob, because nobody is.

    I’m not the most loyal ‘GN listener, but it WAS always something you could rely on. And I feel really bad for the truly loyal listeners – no matter how old they are.

    What I don’t get about the whole new ignorant strategy is that it obviously can’t be based on any business plan. The station has killed most every other station in the ratings AND billing FOR YEARS. Yes, the demographic is not the most desirable for advertisers, but it hasn’t been FOR DECADES. Eventually, we all come back to silly ol’ WGN. And now these knuckleheads are screwing that up for nothing except the ability to put their own “stamp” on it.

    Oh well, looks like the ratings are taking a dive, so these guys will be gone soon. Hopefully, the station can recover, and give me more than 20 minutes of programming an hour (AT BEST!!)

  2. 11.04.2009 06:55

    2

    I have a different point of view. I am glad WGN brought Kevin Metheny on board. Why? Although I listen to a lot of radio, WGN was never on my radar screen. I always thought of it as the station for the geriatric crowd with nothing much to offer. Then, Kevin comes to town and all of the sudden, things start to get interesting. First, he had many “guests” for the open afternoon slot which increased my interest in WGN because I could hear a lot of different, talented (for the most part) folks do their thing. He then hires Garry Meier for afternoons who is really entertaining and does a great job with his show. He got rid of some of the old, stale shows that kept me from listening in the first place – he may still have to pay some of these people but to change the face of the station, they needed to go when they did. Where there are open slots, there are usually interesting guests including Bruce Wolf and others. He has made me want to listen to WGN where in the past – I would have never even considered it. I enjoy many of the new hosts including Greg in the morning. While I don’t like everything (I could definitely live without all the interruptions for traffic and weather), I listen to WGN fairly regularly now which I never would have done a year ago. While I tend to skew towards preferring music radio, Kevin is revitalizing WGN and is giving me a reason to listen to talk radio, at least some of the time.

    It is very refreshing to have a PD in town that isn’t afraid to mix things up even though he is programming a heritage station like WGN where change may not be welcomed by everyone. While I can’t comment on his memos or management style, I can say that the end results for this listener have been positive.

  3. Brewman2 #
    11.04.2009 07:05

    3

    Someone needs to take a 2×4 upside this jerks head. I’m surprised someone hasn’t done it already. There is no way I could work for someone like this. Why does management let him get away with such things? Aren’t there policies about treating people with respect?

  4. Steve #
    11.04.2009 07:25

    4

    Good to hear from you again Rob, wordsmithing better then ever.

  5. Mr Levi #
    11.04.2009 08:05

    5

    I’ve been listening to WGN Radio since I was the kid (Jack Brickhouse and Eddie Hubbard are my earliest memories)thru Eddie Schwartz. I even checked out Kathy and Judy and still listen to Steve and Jonnie. I listened as Brick introduced the concept of “Sports Central” back in the early ’80s.

    Let’s put it this way: If I need some info, WGN is not the first place I go anymore. It’s fingernails on a chalkboard now.

    Having been in radio in the past and have numerous friends in the business, Methany is everything that is wrong with terrestrial radio now.

  6. Jeff Hoover #
    11.04.2009 08:32

    6

    Ouch. That’s gonna leave a mark.

  7. john s #
    11.04.2009 09:02

    7

    Lets remember the real problem with WGN is(PIG VIRUS – Sam Zell). Pig Vomit is only the hatchet man brought in to try and ramp up the station ad revenue. Can you say WWWWWWWWWgn.

  8. Marc Davis #
    11.04.2009 09:05

    8

    Hi Rob. It’s great to have you back. There was certaining a void during your absence.

    What do you think were the 10 most significant Chicagoland media stories during the past year that you did not get a chance on which to report? It would be interesting to see you list in a future column.

  9. Tim #
    11.04.2009 09:18

    9

    Rob:

    Great to have you back writing about local media. Wow, sounds like a crazy environment to work. I would hate to work for this guy. I have liked the addition of Garry Meier in the afternoons…after a very uncomfortable few days on the air. He’s a funny guy and I think he fits WGN. Three additions that I haven’t liked are Greg Jarrett on morning drive and Jim Laski and Jerry Agar on weekends. On weekends, I swear I’m listening to WLS with all of its political, right-wing talk. Its a shame if Metheny ruins a good thing…he’s on his way.

  10. DisappointedinSam #
    11.04.2009 09:20

    10

    All you need to know is —– ” w N b c “. . .

  11. Jeff Rabin #
    11.04.2009 10:01

    11

    This story is why you have been missed Robert! As a fairly regular WGN listener I enjoyed knowing that WGN was a “solid” radio station. Thre was no shrill attacking and shrieking. There was discussion and balance. Now, too often, the station sounds like some of Metheny’s memos. If being “edgier” means sounding more like WLS I’m going to the sports stations and an IPod!

  12. mark #
    11.04.2009 10:08

    12

    i’m an on and off listener to WGN and i just wondered how 2 of the most “eccentric”/non-standard shows have gone untouched. Steve and Jonnie and Milt Rosenburg are throwbacks to another time in radio. it’s nice to have some variety, but why aren’t they dropped or changing (not that i want them to). Seems like they would be the first on the “to change” list. Wonder how Milt does with the memos. Start looking at your 401K, Mr. Rosenburg.

  13. Elias125 #
    11.04.2009 10:14

    13

    In the name of all that is Gary Deeb, it’s d*** good to have you back.

  14. Hooray #
    11.04.2009 10:34

    14

    Great column. It needed to be said, and Robert Feder is the only guy who could do it!

  15. Jay #
    11.04.2009 10:42

    15

    Milt Rosenberg probably identified the language of the memo as some offshoot of Sanskrit & sent it to U. of Chicago for verification.

  16. 11.04.2009 10:44

    16

    “Truthfulness…is OPTIONAL?

    so I guess that’s it. The loud, sucking sound that signals that we’ve finally reached the bottom.

    Obviously, that works in TV on Fox News, but for some reason I believed that WGN could – would never choose to – succumb to such cynical tactics.

    And beyond that, he’s dead wrong. Good Radio, more than any other modern medium, is all about truth.
    That’s why Rush and Beck have been able to make so much money. They rely on the innate faith listeners have when hearing a passionate host pontificate…’ geez, if they’re THAT worked up, it MUST be true.’ They long ago decided to trade true patriotism and opinion for fat bank accounts preaching to a seething mass of rabid morons.

    Sad to see WGN lowering itself into the cesspool.

    But, in the absence of real talent or vision, i guess all this hack has are the tricks that every other douche in radio is using to eek out an extra dollar. The fact that he’s burying a good station in doing so is what bothers me.

    Until the makers of radio stand up and refuse… like it seems some of WGN’s classier hosts are doing, especially during the afternoons, its going to keep getting worse.

    Its our medium – Fight for it or embrace the dark side

  17. Lord Vader #
    11.04.2009 10:57

    17

    Pig Vomit is a tool. . .it’s amazing that the guy can keep getting jobs at all. . .15 different markets. . .maybe he’ll find a 16th home soon once Tribune gets broken up and someone else buys the broadcast entities. . .

  18. Dtck Mitz #
    11.04.2009 11:15

    18

    Rob…..I am glad to see that you are writing once again and I am even more

    glad that I found you……Hope all is well with you and your Family…..

    Dick Mitz (Mitroff) (on Facebook)

  19. AD #
    11.04.2009 11:26

    19

    Another sad story in the once-great industry that is broadcasting. In the days that required diversity of ownership, the competitive employment options it brought would permit WGN employees to tell Metheny to stick the job directly under his curly tail, just as Howard did.

  20. Moving off the dial #
    11.04.2009 11:28

    20

    His shirt says everything that needs to be said about him. But Feder’s words were like the gravy on the mashed potatoes!

  21. Unindicted Co-Conspirator #
    11.04.2009 11:30

    21

    I thought Stern always called him “Pig Vomit”?
    As a guy that always used to listen to WGN, I rarely do now. Just a bit of DiGilio now & then. It’s obvious Pig Vomit is going to dump Nick one of these days. Nick should have gotten a better time slot by now, what with all the changes.

    But Rob, as a life long resident of Rogers Park, we often deliberately mispronounce Devon as a joke.

  22. Burt Sherwood #
    11.04.2009 11:37

    22

    Rob: I thought Deeb left town and was securely freezing in Buffalo. But NO, you have tried to muck rake a great programmer who I have known since he was 16. His father is also equally brilliant.
    Shame on you Rob Feder! The Howard Stern reference was totally out of line and uncalled for. Kevin was following his orders on Stern from NBC managment, Kevin took the “heat”. For me to comment on what I think of Stern has no relavence.
    One of the most brilliant things that Randy did was to bring in Kevin. He has won many more “battles” than he has lost. WGN is lucky to have him …I have been through the battles of Chicago, and I were there now, I would even hestitate a minute to have that kind of talent on my team!

  23. Justin Kaufmann, Web Editor #
    11.04.2009 11:38

    23

    Ah, Co-conspirator – I thought the same thing. But Robert reminded me that the “Pig Vomit” was for the movie, not real life. In real life, he was “Pig Virus.”

  24. Burt Sherwood #
    11.04.2009 11:40

    24

    last sentence is missing a word…before the word even,…there should be a NOT thanks

  25. Susi #
    11.04.2009 12:02

    25

    So now it makes sense! I heard Gary Meier talking sometime in the last couple weeks about how he was told he wasn’t supposed to ask callers, “How are you?”, and was teling callers not to ask him that either. Come on! Really?

    WGN had become a favorite of mine, and I used to HATE talk radio. Since all the changes and micromanaging, it just leaves a bad taste in my mouth, and makes me switch stations.

  26. Clark Weber #
    11.04.2009 12:04

    26

    Rob;
    Excellent article on WGN radio. While Kevin Metheny is the poster boy for “radical radio” the problem goes much deeper than that.Their 25/54 demo has always been anemic at best and if it wasnt for baseball it would be non existent.As an advertising agency that specializes in marketing to the 50 plus demo, at one we time did buy WGN.That demo was thier strength. Not anymore.Even 50 plus will flee. Now thanks to Metheny’s heavy hand (And I’m sure there are higher ups who are pushing him!) there is a nasty knife edge attitude on the part of the hosts that I find offensive.They want to blow out the “oldies” and woo a younger demo and they want to do it in a hurry! May I point out that Chicago radio history is replete with call letters who went that route and failed.

    P.S: Radio is no longer a business, its a disease!

    Clark Weber
    Clark Weber Associates.

  27. Dr. Freud #
    11.04.2009 12:04

    27

    Nice try Burt, but if my profession we refer to that as “The Old Freudian Slip”!

    Good fake radio name though!

  28. Susi #
    11.04.2009 12:29

    28

    Forgot to say how wonderful it is to be reading your column once again! You were sorely missed, and it’s great to have you back!

  29. Dr. Bob Wolin #
    11.04.2009 12:30

    29

    Several items must be addressed. The Chicago quality that made WGN unique are virtually gone. Jarrett is generic at best. A few days ago Bob Sirott filled in for him and low and behold there was a coherent radio show.

    The cast of clowns is remarkably bad, Gary Mier is recycled not to mention Simon and Jerry Agar. Quality, intellect and a sense of humor were the corner stone of WGN; this has been supplanted by mediocrety,generic and ranting radio.

  30. 11.04.2009 12:48

    30

    Does anyone think Brandmeier could wind up at WGN with Metheny attempting to call the shots? The next time Johnny B. pays attention to a PD MEMO will be the first time!

  31. Gregg #
    11.04.2009 12:51

    31

    Nice to be reading you again Mr. Feder…welcome back!

    I couldn’t agree with you more about what Metheney has done to WGN. He seems bound and determined to put his thumb-print on the station, i.e., drive it into the ground. What’s the old adage…if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it? For DECADES, WGN has been, if not the top, then at least in the top five in terms of overall ratings and billing. As a long-time listener, I find myself opting for other choices (The Score, NPR) than constantly leaving my radio on 720.

    Greg Jarret, for all his worldliness (gourmet, pilot, sky diver), and his ‘newsman’ background, comes across as pompous. I get a vicarious thrill out of listening to him when his clueless-ness about Chicago comes to the forefront. As a lifelong Chicagoan, I wasn’t aware that there was (according to Jarrett) a northeast side of the city. Perhaps it’s off of ‘Dev-in’ avenue. His arrogance really shone through when he corrected/informed John ‘Bulldog’ Drummond on the proper way to pronounce a gangster’s name(”That’s the way it’s pronounced in Italy.”). You could almost hear Drummond say “who cares”. It probably wasn’t the easiest transition to jump into one of the most coveted shifts in all of radio, but to instantly proclaim yourself a Cubs fan, and be a self-proclaimed ‘expert’ on the history and intricacies of Chicago politics is nothing short of vain.

    John Williams is fine. Sometimes a bit of a know-it-all, but in the long run, probably the best person to replace Kathy and Judy. But like you wrote, why get rid of K&J? I didn’t listen to them religiously, but in the fairly male-centric world of radio, they could bring a refreshing point of view. Where else could you hear two women in their 60’s opine on things? Didn’t always agree, but at least that particular demographic had a forum. But the bigger issue was why get rid of them? They had a year left on their contract(s), were going to retire, so at least give them the opportunity to go out with a little style, class, and dignity. They served the station well for 20 years, at least let them go out on their own terms.

    Sirott is fine as well. Savvy enough to when when to talk Chicago politics, and when to talk about hot dog stands.

    The only smart move Metheney has made is hiring Garry Meier. Like a previous poster wrote, there were a few awkward days at the beginning, but he’s really seemed to hit his stride. He’s quick-witted, and probably has the best rapport with the news/weather/sports/business people. To me at least, the somewhat rigid format of WGN is almost a boon to Garry. On previous stations he had a tendency to sometimes paint himself into a corner. With either commercials, news or traffic always looming, Garry doesn’t seem to find himself in those tight spots that he used to.

    Jerry Agar is totally un-listenable. A complete hack. Why he’s on TWICE on a Saturday is beyond belief. His “Jerry’s Kidders” segment is the absolute nadir of Chicago radio. Third-rate comics making fourth-rate jokes on week old news, guffawing all the way. Brilliant! Please leave the issues-oriented radio for M – F, and on the weekends give me some lighter fare. If I want issues, there’s other places to find them. As a station that promotes itself at the top of EVERY HOUR as the home of the Cubs, Blackhawks, and Wildcats, the LAST thing I want to listen to on a Saturday afternoon is Agar prattle on and on about how Daley is mismanaging the City.

    Chicago radio listeners are very proprietary about their on-air personalities. One only has to look at the recent history of Chicago radio to see how poorly syndicated personalities and ‘outsiders’ have done here. One can talk demographics, skewing to an audience, and all the other buzz words that Metheney seems to be so fond of all they want. To a lot of people, WGN represented a certain ‘comfort-zone’. Not to say that change isn’t needed sometimes, but not in this way. I hope Metheney is out before he totally runs this station into the ground.

  32. Justin Kaufmann, Web Editor #
    11.04.2009 13:06

    32

    Gregg, that’s a pretty long comment.

  33. John landecker #
    11.04.2009 13:12

    33

    Robert
    First of all, I love that you are commenting on Chicago media… In regards to the terminology portion of your posting. In the past few years I have been doing talk radio, going to talk radio conferences and talking to various consultants. There is a nation wide school of thought that says some of the old terminology is outmoded. In the PPM world keeping the listener tuned in while you go to commercials is a huge challenge. Saying “we will be right back” is generally felt to be a tune out. Right back? Are you going some where? Instead the challenge is to device an effective”tease” that is compelling enough to hold the listener.This is not that different than music radio. Instead of just listing the artists that are coming up, ask a question about one of them that can only be resolved after the commercials are over. I love radio and I am so happy to see you have not lost your edge.

  34. Pig Vomit Jr. #
    11.04.2009 13:13

    34

    Great point Justin! Perhaps Gregg needs a memo!

  35. Jay #
    11.04.2009 13:58

    35

    Welcome back Robert !

    Metheny is from the same cloth as Randy Michaels, the shock radio programmer who’s only claim to fame was in Tampa, Florida before Sam Zell backed him with Jacor Broadcasting that Clear Channel bought and made Michaels president of that company. He lasted a very short time before they terminated him.

    Terry Metheny is as crude as Randy Michaels and will be at WGN as long as the station is under the control of the Zell forces. One can only hope a new owner rescues the station before it dies trying to attract a demograpic that no longer listens to AM radio.

  36. Jay #
    11.04.2009 14:02

    36

    Opps, Terry is Kevins dad….a nice man who as a programmer in the 60’s was nothing like his “kid.”

  37. Pig Ambrosia #
    11.04.2009 15:08

    37

    Randy Michaels took a foundering WLW (Cincinnati) in the 1980s and turned it into a monster. The work Michaels did there is still evident. Metheny makes good points regarding vocubulary, but the way to communicate them is not through heavy-handed emails and memos. The heart of any talk radio stations is in the energy of the performances of hosts. If you want to quickly disrupt the energy of the execution – the art of radio, yell at them about arcane and mostly unimportant verbiage – the science.

    I like the comment, “Where else could you hear two women in their 60’s opine on things?” The answer is nowhere and for good reason. Their shreiking was both aggravating and tired. Everyday they were on, WGN stopped people from listening.

    WGN has been a friendly and lazy radio station for generations. There have been hosts there forever who never worked to produce great radio. They played needle-bounce at a time when that just doesn’t get it done anymore. There is too much competition in the market to be happy with trying to hold on to the aging audience that remains.

    I absolutely don’t understand the hiring of Greg Jarrett. This is Chicago. Did we run out of talented performers here? Who corrects the Bulldog? John Drummond knows more about Chicago and organized crime than anyone. In a city like Chicago, you need to speak the language. Faking it doesn’t cut it.

    Radio is a tough business. Moving forward means you can’t stay where you are, and that risks alienating people who like it just the way it is. Moving forward is necessary, but the way to do it is by earning respect not through whipping people with high-handed memos.

  38. Dave Compton #
    11.04.2009 15:43

    38

    Everyone Randy Michaels brings in has this Napoleon personality. Lee Abrams, Sean Compton, Kevin Metheny…everyone is a dick and not very talented. They are NIGHTMARES to work for. It all goes back to Randy Michaels who empowers these children.

  39. 11.04.2009 15:56

    39

    Rob, like the others I’m glad you’re back. You set the standard on reporting about the radio industry and you HAVE been missed. I’ve known Kevin Metheny for years. I even have audio tapes of his dad, Terrell who was known (in another lifetime) as Mighty Mitch Michael on Radio WKLO 1080 in Louisville. The most hateful e-mail I ever received was from Kevin when I pushed him too hard on adding Bob & Tom to WMMS in Cleveland. On the flip side, the last time I saw Kevin it was at the funeral of Ed Buterbaugh, the brillant chief engineer of CKLW and WJR in Windsor & Detroit. Making the effort to attend that service really impressed me. Kevin Metheny is most certainly high-maintainance….but most truly creative people are. People are quick to judge. It takes time to rebuild a radio franchise, especially one like WGN. Both head-honcho Randy Michaels and ‘GN GM Tom Langmyer are smart broadcasters. Time will prove whether or not they’ve made the right move. I feel they have.
    Art Vuolo, Jr.
    “Radio’s Best Friend”
    Detroit area

  40. DisappointedinSam #
    11.04.2009 16:10

    40

    You forgot to mention anything about the memo sent set by Metheny to (newscaster) Jim Gudas which instructed him to “dumb” down his newscasts by being less accurate in his pronunciation of terms and less erudite in his delivery in order to more comfortably relate to his audience…

  41. jayster00 #
    11.04.2009 16:18

    41

    These people are killing full-service radio.

  42. DisappointedinSam #
    11.04.2009 16:32

    42

    I realize that this is somewhat off of the point, but the Clear Channel mafia has infected the Chicago Tribune management as well… Have you seen the Saturday newspaper editions lately ? ? ?…

    What I find curious is how they intend to fill the newsprint during their upcoming “no AP content” experiment since they’d previously gotten rid of 70% of their news and photo staff…

    Maybe Opie and Arnold will offer them content from their Mayberry Maple Avenue News…

  43. Joe Matenopoulous #
    11.04.2009 17:17

    43

    It is good to have you back, Mr. Feder. I am sad to say but I have given up on the Radio in Chicago. I liked WGN at one time, especially when Larry Shriner would come on or that other fellow who used to go to things and tell us where the fires and the murders were. If Larry or that other fellow were somewhere, you always knew that was where the action was happening! Now all I ever hear are people getting angry or talking rudely to one another about issues that I could care less about. I think Spike Odelle left at the right time. He would be very sad to see what a great radio station has turned into. It sounds like everything else!
    My sons have given me satellite radio to listen to and it is all wonderful music and some funny stories as well. If I listen to Chicago Radio any more it is to John and Big Cisco on the morning show all the way over in the Polish part of the Radio Dial. They are funny men and make me laugh even though they don’t like very many people especially Mr. Obama.

  44. TLD #
    11.04.2009 17:18

    44

    Metheny can shake things up. However, there are positives and negatives to a shake up. Negatives include hiring people that have never worked in Chicago radio and trying to instantly pass them off as Chicagoans, hiring anal retentive hacks on the weekends that cannot come up with new topics, hiring guys with accents that somehow try to fake their own natural accent instead of trying to be themselves, and trashing your loyal, dedicated staff in memos.

  45. Clark Weber #
    11.04.2009 17:23

    45

    The definition of a radio consultant: Someone who wears thier hat to the bathroom so they know which end to wipe.

  46. 11.04.2009 17:32

    46

    How fabulous that you are back in Chicago writing about the truth behind the scenes of media in town. I am so grateful!

  47. 11.04.2009 17:35

    47

    It is so wonderful that you are back writing about the truth behind the scenes in Chicago media. I have missed you! We all have missed you!

  48. Javier Delgado #
    11.04.2009 18:48

    48

    Boy! How we have missed you! Welcome back and look forward to your insightful columns.

  49. Eddie #
    11.04.2009 18:52

    49

    Thank you for validating my observations as a frustrated WGN listener and general fan of radio. I find the current level of programing on a major disappointment. Up until recently, I would characterize myself as a loyal listener; waking up, going to bed, and enduring commuting with WGN on my radio. Now I can barely keep tuned to 720 before changing the station. I look forward to Nick, and will continue to follow my Cubbies on ‘GN, for I find very little of the remaining programing informative or entertaining. The one positive is that I have used the demise of my former favorite station, to become more familiar with the outstanding programing on Chicago Public Radio, WBEZ.

  50. 11.04.2009 20:36

    50

    Robert:

    Great column. Totally on with your assessment of WGN. The new regime has quickly turned a class act to a hard listen.

    Mike

The legendary Chicago journalism titan Robert Feder is back. Oh yeah, he’s BACK! He’s on the new Chicago Public Radio site vocalo.org. Here’s Feder at his finest, telling it like it is about what was once one of the great radio stations on the planet.

Feder is not only a brilliant observer of the media landscape, he’s a mensch of the highest degree. Its rare to see real media journalism, and Feder is one of a handful of the true practitioners of that art.

Posted via web from Mark Edwards 3.0

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