WLS FM bets on Jack Diamond for mornings

Jack Diamond

Jack Diamond

Move over, Brant Miller: Jack Diamond is on his way.

Diamond, 60, a longtime Washington, D.C., radio personality, is expected to be named morning host at WLS FM 94.7. Insiders said he’ll start Monday on the Cumulus Media classic hits station, succeeding Miller from 5:30 to 9 a.m. weekdays.

Brant Miller

Brant Miller

Miller will continue in a reduced role as co-host and weather reporter, while Marti Jones will stay on as news and traffic anchor, sources said. Miller, 64, whose main job is chief meteorologist at NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5, has been doubling as morning host on WLS FM since October 2012. He previously hosted mornings on the station from 2008 to 2010.

Diamond filled in alongside Miller for one week last July in what turned out to be an on-air audition. By all accounts it went well (“a truly great experience,” Diamond said at the time) and led to a one-year contract offer to host mornings, sources said at the time.

But Diamond turned down the offer from WLS FM and instead accepted a morning radio job in San Diego — a gig that lasted barely two weeks before he called it quits. Citing personal and family reasons, Diamond wrote on Facebook: “This is my wife and son’s first ‘Radio Move’ and I wanted to make it as easy and stress-free as possible. It became anything but with each day and another piece that wouldn’t fit. We were just trying to do it too fast and without the proper budget or timeline.”

Through it all, Diamond kept in close contact with Jan Jeffries, senior vice president of corporate programming for Cumulus Media and program director of WLS FM. Diamond last worked for Jeffries in Washington at WRQX, which cut Diamond after 26 years as morning personality in April 2013. The two have been friends since they worked together in the ’80s at the former WQXI FM in Atlanta.

Ever since Cumulus Media made an unsuccessful run earlier this year at Ed Volkman and Joe Colborn (the duo known as Eddie & Jobo), it’s been clear the station’s morning show was due for a shakeup. In Nielsen Audio ratings released this week, WLS FM ranked 15th in mornings with a 2.8 percent share and a cumulative weekly audience of 440,700. That’s substantially underperforming the station, which tied for seventh place overall with a 4.0 share and a weekly cume of 1,426,100.

Diamond, whose real name is Harvey Joel Fischer, was born in the Washington area and spent most of his career there, including 24 years on WRQX. After he was dropped in April 2013, he briefly hosted mornings on WLYF in Miami Gardens, Florida.

In 2004 Diamond was tapped by news/talk WLS AM 890 to join weekend host Teri O’Brien when she filled in for morning personalities Don and Roma Wade. The Wades were off the air for seven weeks during protracted contract negotiations.

Thursday afternoon update: Diamond’s hiring, effective Monday, was confirmed in an email to staff. It included the following statement from Diamond:

“As a kid listening to the radio at night, WLS and WABC were the stations that sparked a desire to spend my life doing what those great personalities were doing from so many miles away.  Pure magic. Hosting Mornings at 94.7 WLS is not only a career dream come true, it brings my career full circle and is truly ‘going home.’  In a city with such great air talent through the years, it’s an honor to join them, past and present in Chicago. Thanks to John Dickey, Mike McVay, Market Manager Donna Baker and the one and only Jan Jeffries, Cumulus SVP/PD of WLS FM, for the enthusiastic welcome and great opportunity at such a legendary radio station.”