Capping an unparalleled run as program director of WXRT FM 93.1, Norm Winer has shifted to a new role at the adult album alternative station he has led with distinction since 1979.
CBS Radio Chicago announced Wednesday that Winer has been named director of music initiatives and special programming at WXRT. The newly created position is intended to capitalize on Winer’s “years of experience and expertise stewarding the WXRT brand,” according to the company’s statement.
Mitch Rosen, operations director of WXRT and sports/talk WSCR AM 670, said in an email: “We’ve asked Norm to take his amazing strengths of industry relationships, gift of discovering new bands and artists, and skill at producing events, and concentrate on those responsibilities full-time — all the exciting elements that make ‘XRT a very special radio station and a Chicago institution.”
Winer was not immediately available for comment. While his position as program director will not be filled, his duties will be handled by Rosen and music director Kelly Ransford.
The Brooklyn-born, Brandeis-educated Winer, 66, joined WXRT in 1979 after stints at WBCN in Boston and KSAN in San Francisco. He’s widely regarded as one of the nation’s most distinguished and respected rock radio programmers.
“Few program directors are as closely identified with a major market commercial radio station,” the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events said of Winer in awarding him its prestigious Fifth Star Award last September. “In a radio world often focused on playing the hits, WXRT has for decades brought new artists and music to the ears of Chicagoans. While others regularly change format and personnel, the station has remained remarkably consistent, while staying at the forefront of new music in Chicago and the world, and no one is more responsible for this than Winer.”
In the latest Nielsen Audio survey, WXRT ranked 15th overall with a 2.6 percent share and cumulative weekly audience of 994,900. Among men between 35 and 64, the station tied for eighth with a 3.6 share and 314,000 cume.
Here is the text of Rosen’s announcement:
We have some exciting news to share with you in regards to the future of WXRT-FM.
A few minutes ago we announced to the WXRT staff that Norm Winer would be taking on a new role as Director WXRT Music Initiatives & Special Programming that capitalizes on his years of experience and expertise stewarding the WXRT brand.
When you think of Norm words like visionary and innovator in the rock format come to mind. For more than 35 years, he has led XRT with a precise focus not only on what goes out over the air but how the station interacts with music fans at live experiences and community events. His emphasis on the latter has been key to the station’s longevity and success over the years. There are not many stations in the category of XRT or that have the same loyalty of its listeners.
With that in mind, and as our business continues to be so much more than just a collection of radio stations, we’ve asked Norm to take his amazing strengths of industry relationships, gift of discovering new bands and artists, and skill at producing events, and concentrate on those responsibilities full-time — all the exciting elements that make XRT a very special radio station and a Chicago institution.
There are a number of opportunities to expand the reach of XRT and expose the station to new fans, and I know Norm will play an important role in growing our audience and importance in the music scene.
This move is possible because of the deep bench of programming resources we have here in Chicago. Kelly Ransford will continue her duties as Music Director and presenting the overall imaging of the station. I will continue to oversee the daily operations of the station including marketing and promotions, along with more of the administrative duties. XRT will continue to be the same great station listeners expect it to be when they tune in.
This is a great day for XRT. Please join me in congratulating Norm on this newly created role of importance to the station.