Rick O’Dell to program Me-TV FM

Rick O'Dell

Rick O’Dell

Chicago radio veteran Rick O’Dell has been named program director of Weigel Broadcasting’s WRME LP 87.7, the soft rock/oldies station branded as Me-TV FM.

It marks a return to the same frequency he once programmed as Chicago’s Smooth 87.7 FM. Although O’Dell is best known as the city’s preeminent authority on smooth jazz programming, no change is expected in the current music format of Me-TV FM.

“It’s great to have someone of Rick O’Dell’s caliber on board, and we’re excited to have him at Me-TV FM,” Neal Sabin, vice chairman of Chicago-based Weigel Broadcasting, said in a statement Wednesday. “Rick’s career in Chicago radio elevates what we’ve already started, and I’m confident we’ll see more good things to come with him on our team.”

O’Dell, 56, replaces Mark Zander, who resigned to join Hubbard Radio classic hits WDRV FM 97.1 as weekend and fill-in personality.

Me-TV FM

Me-TV FM

Since its debut last February, Me-TV FM has proved a bona fide hit with what’s billed as “a unique blend of memorable, timeless and classic pop music that the boomer generation listened to from the 1960s through 1980s.” Plans for a national rollout are believed to be in the works.

For O’Dell, a lifelong Chicagoan and graduate of Lyons Township High School and the University of Illinois at Champaign/Urbana, it’s more than a return to the 87.7 dial position where he doubled as program director and midday host from 2010 to 2012. It’s also a return to the adult-contemporary music genre that defined his early career, most notably at the former WCLR (now WTMX FM 101.9).

“The timeless hits and memorable music of Me-TV FM are the music I grew up with,” O’Dell said in a statement. “I love these songs. And most of them were on the playlist of WCLR when I was with them back in the day. I can’t wait to get started working with Neal and his incredible team.”

While at WCLR in 1987, O’Dell introduced listeners to “The Sunday Lite Brunch,” a weekly showcase for light jazz and “new age” instrumentals. Six months later, WNUA hit the air as a full-time smooth jazz station and soon thereafter hired O’Dell as music director and midday host. He spent the next two decades at the station, where he rose to program director. Following a format change at WNUA in 2009, he was named operations manager for Chicago-based AccuRadio.com, where he programmed a dozen Internet radio channels.

In 2012 he launched SmoothJazzChicago.net, a free 24/7 streaming digital station. He also is an adjunct professor in the School of Media Arts at Columbia College Chicago.

WRME is a low-power analog station on VHF television channel 6 that operates as a radio station. In addition to soft rock/oldies Me-TV FM and Chicago’s Smooth 87.7 FM, it also has served as a sports/talk outlet branded as The Game 87.7 and as an alternative rock station.

Me-TV FM is a spinoff of Weigel Broadcasting’s Me-TV (Memorable Entertainment Television), the digital classic television network covering 98 of the top 100 U.S. markets.

In the latest Nielsen Audio survey, Me-TV FM tied for 26th place with 1.6 percent share and cumulative weekly audience of 577,400.