Veteran Chicago broadcaster Cisco Cotto, who spent the last decade as a talk show host for both secular and religious stations, is returning to his roots as a radio newsman.
Cotto, 39, was hired Tuesday as an anchor/reporter at WBBM AM 780 and WCFS FM 105.9, according to Ron Gleason, director of news and programming for the top-rated CBS Radio all-news station. He’s expected to start on the air next week.
For the west suburban Aurora native who began his Chicago career at the former all-news WMAQ AM 670, the move to WBBM Newsradio is a natural: “In a weird way I feel like this is a homecoming even though I’ve never worked there,” Cotto said. “There are so many veterans from WMAQ and other friends that I’m excited to be able to work with again — Bob Roberts, Pat Cassidy, Jeff Joniak, Mike Krauser, Terry Bauer, Nancy Harty. They’re all such pros.”
Cotto credits sportscaster Joniak with launching his career at WMAQ by hiring him straight out of Western Illinois University. “Jeff was the first person who took a chance on me right out of college. If not for him, I don’t know what town I’d be working in,” he said.
Best known for his two stints at Cumulus Media news/talk WLS AM 890, where he made the transition from news reporting to talk-show hosting, Cotto spent three years in between at Salem Communications news/talk WIND AM 560. Most recently he worked for Moody Bible Institute’s Christian talk WMBI FM 90.1.
By all accounts, Cotto had been among the top candidates to replace Mark Elfstrand as WMBI’s morning host, but was passed over earlier this year when the Moody Radio flagship chose to move in the proverbial different direction.
“I got my start in radio as an intern at Moody Radio when I was in high school,” said Cotto, who later earned a master of divinity degree from the institute’s seminary. “So Moody is in my blood. Of course there was disappointment. But I serve on the seminary alumni board and will continue to be a part of the Moody family. I love that school.”
WBBM Newsradio marks Cotto’s fourth AM outlet here (“My boyhood plan to work at every AM station in town is progressing nicely,” he joked). But with an audience reach of more than 1.3 million listeners, it’s also his biggest one yet. “WBBM has been a dominating station in this market for decades,” he added. “It’s pretty humbling to be able to work there.”