A burst water pipe in the Tribune Tower resulted in both WGN-AM 720 and The Game/WGWG-LP 88.7 being off the air for a few minutes this morning. Kudos to the Chicagoland Radio & Media message board user Larry London for what he posted this morning:
I heard WGN AM was off the air for 20 minutes this morning due to a water main break. Steve Cochran never sounded better and you can fill in your own jokes about the station’s ratings being under water.
While I am a fan of Steve Cochran, I can’t help appreciate the humor in that message. As for Cochran, I wasn’t always a fan of his, but I have enjoyed his presence on WGN since taking over the morning show in September, 2013.
What I am not a fan of is Cochran’s physical absence during his show’s 5 a.m. hour. Originally, when his show was extended from 9 to 10 a.m. earlier this year, he explained that the first hour would be more news centric, and that he would take more of a backseat role to Andrea Darlas, Orion Samuelson and the rest of the show’s crew. Perhaps, I just failed to read between the lines, but at the time, I figured he would at least be there with the occasional chime in.
Now, it’s obvious he isn’t there at all that first hour, as evidenced by his routine of calling in by cell phone near the end of the hour while still on his way to the studio. By the way, calling in by cell phone doesn’t make up for his not being there. In my opinion, it makes the situation appear worse.
Again, I am a fan Cochran’s show, so I’m not looking for reasons to pick on him. I should also clarify that this rant isn’t because I dislike the 5 a.m. hour with Darlas and Samuelson. However, with Cochran as the face of the station – or at the very least one the faces – he is the guy who shouldn’t make it appear like he’s coasting along as he pleases.
Cochran is the one, upon his return to the station last year, who told listeners that the WGN of old was back and that WGN is the people’s station. Yet, there remains a community of angry listeners who believe Cochran is in “cahoots” with a station management team that seemingly has a real disconnect with the audience. Whether fair or not, Cochran’s critics – highly visible on Facebook, the Chicagoland Radio & Media message board and in the comments section of Robert Feder’s blog – believe he had a hand in the demotion of popular afternoon host Garry Meier (I honestly have no idea whether such assessment is fair or not).
I understand that Cochran showing up for his own show on time isn’t going to suddenly drown the anger of his vocal critics. However, his first hour absence does further the allusion that Cochran can pretty much do whatever he wants since he is tight with his bosses.
The easy fix would be to simply change the name of the 5 a.m. hour to a more generic name not featuring Steve Cochran. Or officially extend Digilio’s show an extra hour while he interacts with Darlas and Samuelson until 6 a.m. Either way, the 5 a.m. hour shouldn’t be billed as the “Steve Cochran show” when the man himself isn’t actually present.