John Farneda returns to WXRT as interim music director

John Farneda (Photo: Riverside-Brookfield Landmark)

John Farneda, who signed off after more than 30 years at WXRT FM 93.1 at the end of 2014, is returning to the CBS Radio adult album alternative station to reclaim his former position as music director — at least for a while.

Greg Solk, operations manager and program director of WXRT, announced Thursday that Farneda had been named interim music director, succeeding Kelly Ransford, who resigned to take a new job in Denver.

It’s a happy homecoming for Farneda, who earned the love and respect of colleagues during his first run at the station, which began as an intern and morning show producer for Terri Hemmert in 1983. The Chicago native and graduate of Columbia College later served as assistant program director, music director and operations manager.

“After 31 years at ‘Chicago’s Finest Rock,’ I realized that I have achieved all my goals at the radio station and it is now time to set new ones,” Farneda told friends when he retired to pursue other ventures. He has spent much of his time working on the restoration of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Avery Coonley House in west suburban Riverside.

Kelly Ransford

Ransford said she is leaving to join iHeartMedia as director of event marketing for its eight-station radio cluster in Denver. A Chicago native who began her career at CBS Radio Top 40 WBBM FM 96.3, she previously worked in Denver as well as in San Francisco and Seattle. She officially joined WXRT as music director in January 2015.

“I value the XRT family and everything we accomplished as a team over the past two years,” she said. “It’s been a crazy two years that were filled with a lot of hard work, tons of heart and many laughs.”

Solk, the veteran programmer who took charge of WXRT last month, praised Ransford. “I have been at this racket quite a while, and I can honestly say Kelly is one of the premier programmers I’ve ever been around,” he said. “Her exhaustive work ethic is just one of the many qualities I will miss about partnering with her.”

Since Solk joined WXRT, the station has adjusted its music playlist significantly, restoring hundreds of titles that had not been aired for many years.

Here is the text of Ransford’s note to staff:

It’s with mixed emotions, but also a lot of excitement, to let you all know that I’ve accepted an incredible opportunity to take on the position of Director of Event Marketing for iHeart-Denver.

I value the XRT family and everything we accomplished as a team over the past two years. It’s been a crazy two years that were filled with a lot of hard work, tons of heart and many laughs.

I’m also extremely grateful to have had time working with Greg Solk, who is not only a fantastic programmer but a stand out human. Every department excels above the bar and shares the goal of success. I could list off everyone individually but then I’d literally be listing off every person, in every department.

I will always cheer on the XRT’s successes and growth. YOU are Chicago’s Finest Rock.