Jerry Schnacke, a highly regarded 17-year Chicago broadcasting veteran, was forced out Monday as vice president and market manager of Hubbard Radio Chicago.
The surprise move came as Hubbard Radio executives said they wanted “a fresh set of eyes” to oversee their three blue chip Chicago stations — hot adult-contemporary WTMX FM 101.9, classic hits WDRV FM 97.1 and adult contemporary WILV FM 100.3.
Drew Horowitz, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Hubbard Radio, will serve as interim market manager until a successor is named.
“We’ve been very successful, and we’ve got enviable operations in Chicago,” Horowitz said in an interview. “But with the short and long-term challenges we’re facing, we believe we needed to get a fresh set of eyes to help map strategies and tactics for the future. We didn’t see enough new thinking to continue the success that we’ve sustained for so long.”
Saying Schnacke was “personally beloved by everyone inside the stations and in the marketplace,” Horowitz added: “Jerry has been an integral part of the past and current success of the stations. I have nothing but the utmost respect personally and professionally for him. I wish him nothing but success in whatever he chooses to do.”
Reached at home, Schnacke, 59, said: “The company wanted a new direction, and they wanted somebody else to do it.” He declined further comment.
Starting in 1997 as local sales manager of the Mix (then under Bonneville International ownership), Schnacke moved up to general sales manager the same year. In 2001, he was named vice president and general manager of the Drive. He succeeded Horowitz as market manager in 2007 and continued in the role after Hubbard Radio acquired the stations in 2011.
Despite an overall decline of 2.5 percent in 2013 Chicago radio revenue, the Mix had its best year ever, boosting revenue 10 percent to $37.4 million.