The man of a thousand voices is bringing them all to WGN.FM.
Chicago radio veteran Kevin Matthews is forming a creative alliance with Tribune Broadcasting to serve as the imaging voice and overall spirit of WGN.FM, the online content portal associated with WGN AM 720. Known informally as “The G,” the site is being developed to incorporate audio, video and social media components.
“We really want to give Kevin a fun platform for all of his characters — hopefully to do things he’s never been able to do before,” said Todd Manley, vice president of creative content at WGN. “And he’d done some pretty cool, crazy stuff.” Matthews will work from his home studio in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
“We’re trying to convince Jim Shorts to be the PD of the station,” Manley joked. “I don’t know how that’s gonna go.”
Matthews, 57, said he decided to “go back to the starting line” after he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2008: “I’ve launched radio stations, custom formats and programs. I’ve learned audio and HD film editing, animation, podcasting and vod-casting. I have polished up old characters and given birth to new ones,” he told me. “I’ve embraced MS, I continue to work with Children’s Charities and have devoted myself to my church and family.”
After rocketing to stardom on the Loop under Jimmy deCastro and Larry Wert [now both at Tribune Broadcasting], Matthews enjoyed an 18-year run on Chicago radio. It ended in 2005 when he returned to Grand Rapids to host mornings on WLAV FM. Since leaving terrestrial radio, Matthews has been creating content for Steve Dahl’s subscription podcast network, where he produces two shows a week for dahl.com.
“I owe my success to Jimmy deCastro, Larry Wert and the city of Chicago,” he said. “When Jimmy asked if he and WGN.FM could use my voice in some creative projects, I just smiled, yelled ‘Freebird’ and fell down a flight of steps because of my MS. Life is good!”
Launched in September, WGN.FM has been the home of Jonathon Brandmeier, who shifted his morning show from WGN AM to the new site. Sportscaster Harry Teinowitz follows Brandmeier’s live stream from 9 to 11 a.m., with both programs replayed throughout the day.
In addition to serving as a precursor to an eventually FM broadcast outlet, Manley said, the goal of “The G” is to become “an interactive destination that will be a content portal — especially a video content portal — for everything we do at ‘GN.”
The faces of Kevin Matthews: