Radio silence for WGN’s McConnell

Mike McConnell

Mike McConnell

Mike McConnell, whose three-year run as midday personality on WGN AM 720 ended with the regime change at the Tribune Broadcasting news/talk station, is finally leaving the building.

Since August, McConnell had been live-streaming and podcasting for WGN’s website — a major step down from the 50,000-watt stage he’d previously commanded.

Sources said McConnell’s agent has agreed to a tentative settlement with the station on the remaining two years of his $500,000-a-year contract. If everything works out as planned, McConnell presumably would be free to return to radio in Cincinnati, where he successfully spent most of the last 30 years.

McConnell, who hasn’t hosted a live show since Oct. 3, initially attributed his absence to “serious tech issues and more to be resolved.” But on Wednesday he told fans on Facebook: “You’re all pretty good guessers as to what in the world is going on and I’ll let you know as soon as I do.”

Jimmy deCastro, president and general manager of WGN, declined to comment on McConnell’s status.

McConnell came to WGN in 2010 as part of an ill-fated effort by then-Tribune Co. CEO Randy Michaels to transform the legacy radio flagship into a more generic, issue-oriented talk station. McConnell previously worked for Michaels at WLW-AM in Cincinnati. But Michaels’ makeover was doomed to fail, and McConnell’s fate was sealed when deCastro took over WGN last May.

As for McConnell’s next move, Cincinnati Enquirer TV/media reporter John Kiesewetter was asked recently whether McConnell could get another job in the market. “Probably,” Kiesewetter wrote. “Most likely WLW, but that means blowing someone out. Who? There’s not another local news talk station in town any more.”