Anchor who defied Sinclair comes home to WGN Radio

Lauren Lapka

Lauren Lapka, who delivered afternoon and evening updates for the short-lived sports/talk station known as 87.7 FM The Game, is coming home to Tribune Broadcasting. Only this time she’ll be working for news/talk WGN 720-AM as weekday traffic reporter.

Starting March 14, the southwest suburban Orland Park native will be heard on middays with John Williams and afternoons with Roe Conn and Anna Davlantes. Lapka replaces Violeta Podrumedic, who left to join Eric Ferguson’s morning show on Hubbard Radio hot adult-contemporary WTMX 101.9-FM.

WGN Radio

“Having Lauren back in the WGN Radio family is a huge win for afternoon drive,” Todd Manley, station manager and vice president of content at WGN, said in a statement. “Her playful intelligence is the perfect complement to Roe and Anna and John Williams.”

Lapka made headlines last spring when she refused to record a controversial promotional video foisted on news anchors across the country by Sinclair Broadcast Group. Widely seen as a political statement by the company, the video criticized other media for “biased and false news.” At the time Lapka had recently started as morning news anchor for KVAL, the Sinclair-owned CBS affiliate in Eugene, Oregon.

“I wasn’t comfortable with it,” she was quoted as saying of the video, which caused a firestorm after Deadspin released a compilation of dozens of anchors reciting the same words. “I don’t believe in hurting other journalists.”

Lapka didn’t lose her job over the incident, but it may have given her second thoughts about working for Sinclair.

“In light of recent events, I just want to take this time to say that I will always be here for you, the viewers — whether it’s Chicago, southwest Missouri, Oregon — or wherever my future takes me,” she wrote at the time. “I worked very hard for my degree from Purdue University and will always do my best to do my duty as a journalist. I always strive to follow all aspects of the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics.”

Lapka worked for 87.7 FM The Game in 2014 before shifting to television, first as a video blogger for FanSided and later as a weekend news anchor and reporter for KSNF, the NBC affiliate in Joplin, Missouri. Since 2018 she has been morning news anchor at KVAL in Eugene.

“It was a tough decision for me to leave, but I’ve been given an opportunity that’s close to family and decided to take it,” Lapka told Facebook friends.

In the latest Nielsen Audio survey, WGN ranked 21st in afternoons with a 2.2 percent audience share.

Monday’s comment of the day: Richard Klicki: It’s a shame that TCM overlooked the classic ’50s newspaper film “Deadline USA” in honoring journalism films. The issues faced by Ed Hutcheson (played by Humphrey Bogart) and The Day still have value today (like the family selling the newspaper to its rival, leading to the paper’s closing), and lines like “A free press, like a free life, sir, is always in danger” and “It’s the press, baby . . . and there’s nothing you can do about it!” are classic!