Charles Thomas quits WVON morning show: ‘I’m getting my life back’

Maze Jackson and Charles Thomas

In the latest Chicago radio surprise, longtime political journalist Charles Thomas has resigned as co-host of Maze Jackson’s morning show on WVON 1690-AM, the Midway Broadcasting African-American news/talk station.

Thomas quit days after Politico Illinois Playbook reported on connections between Jackson and a political consultant working for the reelection campaign of Governor Bruce Rauner. Rauner recently appeared on the show, where he declared: “We’ve done historic things for the black community. I would argue more than any other governor.”

Thomas, who joined WVON in April 2017 after he retired as political reporter from ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7, cited the difficult hours of morning drive for suddenly walking away from the 6 to 9 a.m. weekday gig. He would not comment on the Politico story or say whether it figured into his decision to leave.

“I’m getting my life back,” he told me Monday. “When I retired [from ABC 7], I did not envision getting up at 3 o’clock in the morning every day and then having to go to bed every night at 7 or 8 o’clock. So it’s a good thing for me.”

WVON

Melody Spann Cooper, chairman of Midway Broadcasting and general manager of WVON, said she wished Thomas well. “I thanked Charles for his tremendous commitment and contribution to the station and the community,” she said in a statement. “We were honored to have him for such a short stay and look forward to assisting him in his future endeavors of building his brand in the black media landscape. We know there are big things on the horizon for him.”

WVON is looking to add a new morning co-host “in the very near future,” according to program director Todd Ronczkowski.

Politico’s Shia Kapos reported last week that Rauner’s campaign had hired Chauncey Colquitt as a campaign field consultant “to connect the governor to the African American community,” noting: “Colquitt’s other job (separate from the campaign) is to help secure guests for WVON talk show host Maze Jackson.” The story also reported on Jackson’s connection to other Republican politicians through his marketing company, The Intelligence Group, and as a former statehouse lobbyist.

Jackson responded by calling the story “stupid,” “petty” and “a one-sided attempt to paint me as a Republican and to attempt to compromise who I am and my intentions.”

“Chauncey Colquitt does not have a job and never had the job of booking guests for WVON,” Jackson wrote in a Facebook post. “As many community and PR people do, Chauncey HAS scheduled HIS clients on the show. Additionally he is a 30-year friend and fraternity brother. He has worked with and for me on campaigns for 20-plus years. He is family . . . I would help him until it hurt me.

“What Ms. Kapos fails to report is the number of people that I currently referred to members of the Democratic Party that are also working right now. The only reason I don’t share their names is because it would bring them unnecessary scrutiny.”

In the latest Nielsen Audio survey, WVON tied for 39th place in mornings with a 0.3 percent share and cumulative weekly audience of 33,600.

Monday’s comment of the day: Michael Gallivan: Hanley was hosed.