She’s back: US99 hires Melissa McGurren to host mornings

Austin Huff and Melissa McGurren

Melissa McGurren, who was a mainstay of Hubbard Radio hot adult-contemporary WTMX 101.9-FM for 22 years, has been hired by Audacy country WUSN 99.5-FM to lead a brand-new morning show.

Starting Monday, she will host “Melissa and Austin” from 6 to 9 a.m. weekdays with co-host Austin Huff, a radio producer and podcaster just in from St. Louis.

“I wish I could fully express my gratitude and happiness about joining the US99 team,” McGurren said in a statement. “I love Chicago and country music and I’ve never been more confident in an opportunity or my team. I know this is exactly where I’m supposed to be, and I couldn’t be happier to make this new move in my career.”

Terms of her multiyear deal, negotiated by attorney Steve Mandell, were not disclosed.

McGurren, the pride of Portage, Indiana, who rose from traffic reporter to co-host of Eric Ferguson’s morning show at The Mix, has been off the air since she and the station parted company late last year.

No reason was cited for the breakup, but reports persisted of friction between Ferguson and McGurren. Her new role will make them direct competitors.

Drew Walker

Drew Walker, an 18-year veteran of US99 who most recently has been hosting mornings, returns to middays from 9 a.m. to noon. The rest of the station’s lineup remains intact, with New York-based Katie Neal from noon to 3 p.m., Scotty Kay from 3 to 7 p.m. and Detroit-based Rob Stone and Holly Hutton from 7 p.m. to midnight.

Rachel Williamson, regional president and market manager of Audacy Chicago, said the team of McGurren and Huff “will bring energy, positivity, chemistry, and a lot of fun to this fresh and dynamic local show to serve Chicago’s country listeners.

“Drew [Walker] returns to late mornings and middays and will continue to bring the energy and companionship country listeners have grown to love to get them through their day. Collectively, this roster will super serve Chicago’s country music audience as the standalone country station in the market,” Williamson said.

US99

Marci Braun continues as program director of US99 and regional brand manager of the country format for Audacy.

Huff, a native of Nashville, Tennessee, and self-described country music fan, is a graduate of the Missouri School of Journalism at the University of Missouri. A onetime producer of “The Jim Rome Show” for CBS Sports Radio, he owns and operates KorkedBats.com, a comedy sports blog. Until recently he also hosted a podcast on the site.

“I can’t believe Justin Fields and I are moving to Chicago at the same time, especially considering he throws a much tighter spiral than me,” Huff was quoted as saying. “I’m honored to wake up with this city every morning, and I cannot wait to have a ton of fun in the process.”

In the latest Nielsen Audio survey, US99 tied for 15th in mornings with a 2.0 percent share and cumulative weekly audience of 250,800. Overall the station ranked 13th with a 2.6 share and weekly cume of 710,900.

Wednesday’s comment of the day: Charles Schutt: Isn’t joining NewsNation now pretty comparable to wanting a deckchair on the Andrea Doria or the Titanic AS they are going down?