More of Big John ‘to save America’

Big John Howell

Big John Howell

WIND AM 560, the Salem Communications news/talk station, kicked off the New Year by unveiling a new lineup that adds two syndicated talkers (Sean Hannity and Bill Bennett) and drops two others (Glenn Beck and Mike Gallagher).

But the big surprise is the expansion of the station’s local morning show to five hours, with Big John Howell and Amy Jacobson starting one hour later and holding forth from 6 to 11 a.m. five days a week. The new schedule begins Monday.

Though some hosts might find a five-hour daily marathon challenging, Howell said he welcomes the additional hour. Why, I asked? Three reasons: “One, more opportunity to save America. Two, more time with the lovely Miss Amy. And three, more reasons to send a bigger commission check to my underprivileged agent.”

Whether he was kidding or not, the move clearly represents a vote of confidence in Howell, a 25-year Chicago radio veteran who’s been hosting mornings at WIND since 2006. Jacobson, a former local TV news reporter, joined the show in 2010.

Sean Hannity

Sean Hannity

Hannity’s move to WIND had been a foregone conclusion since he’d lost his place to Michael Savage on Cumulus Media news/talk WLS AM 890. But it wasn’t until Thursday that Salem finally confirmed that Hannity’s show would be airing live from 2 to 5 p.m. weekdays on WIND, starting Monday.

Calling Hannity “an ideal fit” for the conservative talk station, general manager Jeff Reisman said in a statement: “Sean is one of the premier news-talk personalities, and his style will fit nicely with our outstanding lineup of local and national hosts.”

Rejoining the station will be one hour of “Bill Bennett’s Morning in America” at 5 a.m. weekdays. The show, syndicated by Salem Radio Network, previously aired in full before WIND went local in mornings with Howell. Dropped from the lineup were Beck, whose show aired from 9 to 11 a.m., and Gallagher, whose show aired from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m.

In the latest Nielsen Audio quarterly survey, WIND was tied for 38th place in the market with a 0.4 percent share and a cumulative weekly audience of 162,500.

Here is WIND’s new weekday schedule (effective Monday):

  • 5 to 6 a.m. Bill Bennett
  • 6 to 11 a.m. Big John Howell and Amy Jacobson
  • 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dennis Miller
  • 2 to 5 p.m. Sean Hannity
  • 5 to 8 p.m. Joe Walsh
  • 8 to 11 p.m. Michael Medved
  • 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. Dennis Prager
  • 2 to 5 a.m. Hugh Hewitt