Chicago radio stations go wall-to-wall with Rahm town hall

Mayor Rahm Emanuel (Photo: Brooke Collins)

Mayor Rahm Emanuel (Photo: Brooke Collins)

For 30 minutes next Monday night, Rahm Emanuel will command Chicago’s AM and FM airwaves as no mayor ever has before.

Starting at 6 p.m., more than 40 radio stations, encompassing practically every format and audience makeup, simultaneously will air “Chicago Radio Town Hall Meeting,” a conversation with Emanuel about “pressing issues facing the city.”

The event will be moderated by veteran broadcast journalist Bill Kurtis.

Bill Kurtis

Bill Kurtis

Being promoted as an unprecedented collaboration among Chicago’s radio broadcasters, the half-hour show — known in industry parlance as a “roadblock” — will air commercial-free. The location of the studio Emanuel and Kurtis will use is not being disclosed.

In advance of the November 14 broadcast, listeners may submit questions online at ChicagoRadioStations.com or via social media with the hashtag #ChicagoRadio.

“I recently asked the leaders of Chicago-area radio stations to utilize their powerful platforms and tremendous reach to motivate Chicagoans to take a more active role in making our city stronger,” Emanuel said in a statement. “They answered the call with this unique broadcast opportunity. I look forward to sharing my thoughts with the people of Chicago about how, when we work together, we make our city better for everyone who calls it home.”

Spearheading the event is Radio Broadcasters of Chicagoland, whose stations are members of the Illinois Broadcasters Association. The plan has been in the works for more than a year, according to Doug Levy, senior vice president and general manager of Univision Chicago, who serves as board chairman of the IBA and RBC.

Doug Levy

Doug Levy

“This project showcases the high value that radio broadcasters have in a media marketplace,” Levy said. “My colleagues and I all share a deep sense of responsibility to our audiences. This unprecedented broadcast connects an enormous number of people with their elected leader tasked with making lives better for everyone in Chicago.

“Radio stations have a unique ability to create a meaningful conversation because of the intimate relationship the medium has with its audience. Chicago is a world class city with some of the best radio stations in the country. I am proud that we are leading the dialogue about how to solve some of our biggest problems and take full advantage of some of our greatest strengths,” Levy said.

Levy said discussions are underway about guests and topics for future town halls. “This probably has potential to be a quarterly or biannual effort,” he added.

Dennis Lyle, president and CEO of the IBA, said in a statement: “The fact the most popular radio stations in Chicago are willing to set aside regular programming and commercial inventory to air this 30-minute conversation with the mayor is a prime example of local broadcasters doing what they do best — serving the needs of their listeners within their communities of license.”