Robert Murphy’s back at WLS-FM

Robert Murphy

Robert Murphy

It’s showtime again for Chicago radio veteran Robert Murphy.

The man who defined hip adult-contemporary radio in the 1980s at the former Q101 is about to sign on as afternoon personality at WLS FM 94.7, the Cumulus Media classic hits station.

Starting Nov. 11, he’ll be on from 4 to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday. The rest of the station’s lineup will remain intact, but with revised hours: Brant Miller from 5:30 to 9 a.m.; Greg Brown from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.; Danny Lake from 1 to 4 p.m.; John Records Landecker from 8 to 11 p.m.; and Dick Biondi from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m.

“It is a great pleasure to have Robert join 94.7 WLS FM as we complete our talent lineup,” said Jan Jeffries, senior vice president corporate/programming for Cumulus Media and program director of WLS FM. “I am a longtime fan and am counting the days to Nov. 11.”

Murphy, 62, most recently hosted mornings on WILV FM 100.3, the Hubbard Broadcasting adult hits station known as Rewind 100.3. His tenure there was cut short in March 2012 after six months because of underperforming ratings. “It may have been impossible for me to win, but I certainly was willing to give it my best shot,” he said at the time.

Noting that his new shift will be the first time he won’t be “Murphy in the Morning,” he told me Friday: “I have never, ever done anything but mornings. Since my last name is putatively ‘In The Morning,’ I just automatically assumed when they called me that that’s what they were talking about. When they told me afternoons, I thought they were either crazy or visionaries. But since they were potential employers, I’m going with the ‘visionary’ thing.”

Added Murphy: “I’ll have to completely reverse my inner clock because I’ve been formatted to wake up at 4 a.m rather than 4 p.m. I might rather enjoy this.”

Once among the most popular and highest paid radio stars in Chicago, Murphy hasn’t strayed far from a microphone since his heyday at Q101 from 1983 to 1993. Even during two stints in West Palm Beach, Florida, he never gave up his condo on the Gold Coast — or his interest in getting back on the air here.

Robert Murphy (1994)

Robert Murphy (1994)

The latest move will mark Murphy’s second tour of duty at WLS FM. In 1994, he helped launch a “young talk” format on the station, hosting mornings on a lineup that also featured Richard Roeper, Jay Marvin, Turi Ryder and the late Johnny Von. Then-owner Capital Cities/ABC pulled the plug after only one year and returned to a full-time simulcast with news/talk WLS AM 890.

“I’ve been in that building before, and I’m trying to remember where the men’s room is,” Murphy said. “I’m happy to back in a music format rather than that ill-fated talk format that we were trying.”

WLS FM still faces an uphill battle in the ratings after a rocky year since it switched from oldies to classic hits. In the latest Nielsen Audio survey, it ranks 10th with a 3.5 percent share and cumulative weekly audience of 1,277,800. That’s still below its final month as an oldies station in September 2012, when it was tied for sixth with a 4.0 share and weekly cume of 1,442,700.

Among listeners between 25 and 54, WLS FM is tied for 17th with a 2.4 share — down from 15th with a 2.8 share in September 2012.