Changes on horizon for news/talk WLS 890-AM

WLS 890-AM

Now that classic hits WLS 94.7-FM is riding high in the ratings, and alternative rock WKQX 101.1-FM is looking up, Cumulus Media is finally zeroing in on its chronically underperforming AM station — news/talk WLS 890-AM.

Plans are in the works for a major overhaul of the station’s Monday-through-Friday lineup early next year under operations manager and program director Peter Bolger. Once among the top-rated stations in Chicago, the 50,000-watt AM giant never recovered after the loss of longtime morning star Don Wade, who died in 2013.

In the latest Nielsen Audio survey, WLS ranks 23rd with a 1.7 percent share and cumulative weekly audience of 315,200.

The highest rated daypart is middays where syndicated hosts Chris Plante and Rush Limbaugh are in 14th place. Mornings, hosted by Big John Howell and Ramblin’ Ray Stevens, are 20th. Afternoons, hosted by Steve Dahl, are 25th. Evenings, with syndicated hosts Mark Levin, Ben Shapiro and John Batchelor, are 27th.

Marv Nyren

“We’re committed to making all of our stations as strong as we can from a program and product standpoint,” said Marv Nyren, vice president and market manager of Cumulus Chicago. “We’re always looking at ways to upgrade what we have.”

Nyren declined to comment on specific plans, but said WLS would continue its news/talk format with a combination of local and syndicated programs on its revamped weekday schedule. The new lineup is expected to debut in January.

Weekends also are changing at WLS, with the recent addition of two new shows: “Trip Sisters,” hosted by travel experts and sisters Colleen Kelly and Catie Keogh, from 2 to 3 p.m. Saturdays; and “The PoPo Report,” hosted by private investigator Paul Ciolino and Chicago police officer and attorney Lupe Aguirre, from 7 to 9 p.m. Saturdays.

Monday’s comment of the day: Bill Figel: The man [Jim Kirk] knows Chicago, every news room in Chicago and how the business works. Can’t think of someone who has broader knowledge of news as a Business and will embrace the culture so successful at Crain’s under David Snyder. Oh, and bring back Tom Corfman.