In a major shakeup involving two of Chicago’s best-known radio personalities, Steve Cochran is out and Bob Sirott is in as morning host at WGN 720-AM, the Nexstar Media Group news/talk station announced Friday.
Cochran, who has hosted mornings since 2013, was informed of the change moments after he got off the air Friday. He is expected to be paid through the remainder of his contract, which runs through the end of 2020, sources said.
Sirott will start January 6 as morning host from 5 to 9 a.m. weekdays.
Terms of Sirott’s agreement, negotiated by attorney Steve Mandell, were not disclosed.
WGN bosses confirmed the switch Friday but declined to comment further. Cochran recently posted his highest ratings in years, but insiders said he clashed with Sean Compton, the Nexstar executive vice president who’s been overseeing WGN since September.
In the latest Nielsen Audio survey Cochran’s morning show ranked third overall with a 5.4 percent audience share. He outperformed WGN, which ranked eighth with a 4.0 share.
The move marks a return to WGN for Sirott, who co-hosted middays with his wife, Marianne Murciano, from 2013 to 2015. A Chicago radio star since he began as a Top 40 disc jockey in the ’70s, Sirott also served as a TV news anchor and reporter here, earning him induction in the Silver Circle of the Chicago/Midwest chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
Sirott’s hiring confirms a report here December 9. Murciano, who is not returning to radio, is engaged in several entrepreneurial ventures.
Cochran, who’s been a fixture on Chicago radio since 1993, spent 10 years at WGN in a variety of shifts before he was forced out by previous management in 2010. He returned as morning host in 2013.
In a related move, Nexstar also announced the promotion of Mary Sandberg Boyle to general manager of WGN. She most recently served as director of news and operations as well as acting general manager.
“I am looking forward to working with Sean and Mary,” Sirott said, “and honored to carry on the long tradition of legendary WGN morning personalities in my hometown — the city I love.”
Cochran declined to comment.