Sunday night’s broadcast of “Beyond the Beltway” will mark the final airing of the political talk show on WLS AM 890 — and perhaps the end of its 35-year run on Chicago radio.
Host Bruce DuMont said he was notified that after this weekend the Cumulus Media news/talk station no longer will carry the show, which airs live from 6 to 8 p.m. Sundays. WLS will shift to paid programming in the time period.
(Tuesday afternoon update: “Beyond the Beltway” has landed a new local radio outlet on WCGO AM 1590, the north suburban news/talk station owned by Kovas Communications. Starting this weekend, the show will air live from 6 to 8 p.m. Sundays.)
“Beyond the Beltway” will continue to air in syndication on stations in 25 other cities. It also will continue to be heard on Sirius XM Satellite Radio’s POTUS Channel 124, and online at beyondthebeltway.com and on YouTube. A video version of the show, originating from the Museum of Broadcast Communications, airs on WYCC-Channel 20, the public station owned by City Colleges of Chicago, and on Comcast Channel 100.
But the loss of a 50,000-watt clear-channel radio outlet in its home market is a turning point for the show that began in 1980 as “Inside Politics” on Chicago Public Media WBEZ FM 91.5 and moved to WLS in 1992. It was renamed “Beyond the Beltway” in 1995.
DuMont said the decision to cancel his show did not come as a complete surprise after WLS cut its ties last October to 25-year veteran Roe Conn, whose contract as afternoon host was not renewed. After that, DuMont became the station’s senior on-air personality.
Though he understands the economics of radio and the need for “that quick, reliable buck” generated by paid weekend programming, DuMont said the move still hurts.
“There’s a lot going on in the world, and this is one of the most historic, combustible times in our collective lifetime,” he said. “To have a live, serious discussion every week — outside of the Washington beltway — about the future of the country and the future of the world is an important thing to have.”