When long-time WGN-AM 720 host Spike O’Dell retired in December 2008, the coveted morning show was supposed to go to then afternoon host Steve Cochran. After that didn’t happen due to a few circumstances, he would be shown the door some 18 months later. The rest of the radio hell WGN experienced through 2010, and then again at the start of 2013 is well documented. The arrival of Jimmy de Castro as the station’s new president and general manager in May came with high expectations that things will slowly be made right.
Perhaps the most monumental amends took place last Tuesday when the sound of Steve Cochran was heard once again on the AM 720 airwaves. After quitting his previous gig at WIND-AM/560 The Answer, Cochran was free to turn up on WGN where he is now filling in for the vacationing Jonathon Brandmeier.
Bummer… Cochran is only filling in?
Cochran should be the new morning host at WGN. And I say this as someone who ironically didn’t care for him much when he previously hosted afternoons. While Cochran’s high level of wittiness and the urge to be funny is sometimes distracting, he is also highly intelligent and can do a decent job at discussing the day’s most relevant news happenings. I also like his reasonable, realistic perspective on the news, especially on politics.
His interactions with news anchor Andrea Darlas (recently promoted from late afternoons/ early evenings to mornings), Orion Samuelson and Dave Eanet (or last week, Jordan Bernfield) have a tendency to result in impromptu and oft-entertaining discussions. The show has a fine blend of news talk and slight silliness. The news talk isn’t too in-depth or too serious while the silliness is not quite off the rails. The entire listening experience is easy and relaxed — exactly what I want while driving to work.
Cochran’s level of discussion and performance is quite the contrast to Brandmeier. I usually can’t listen to Brandmeier for more than two minutes. I don’t think he is either funny or relevant. Even if I could get remotely interested in one of his topics, he kills the momentum by badgering it to death, often seeking re-clarification over some tiny tidbit that was obvious to the audience ten minutes ago.
The day after the Boston Marathon bombing, he had interviewed one of the runners who was lucky enough to have finished the race prior to the blast. The first question he asked her was how long she had been married. He later congratulated her for simply finishing the race because… you know… the marathon route sure does have a lot of hills. The day after the tornado rampage in Moore, OK, Brandmeier is playing the wicked witch theme from the “Wizard of Oz” while discussing the devastation of the town.
Thankfully, Brandmeier wasn’t on WGN the day after Sept. 11, 2001. Is it too far fetched to imagine him asking one of the rescue firefighters “so… did you still slide down the pole after learning the Trade Center was under attack?”
I doubt Cochran quit his job at WIND — a full-time radio gig in Chicago — just to be a fill-in guy at WGN. While Cochran for now continues to host a midday show at KTRS-AM 550 in St. Louis (weekdays 10am-12pm), I would bet money that he is back at WGN full-time in some capacity by the end of the year.
If I had it my way, Cochran would have replaced Brandmeier as the station’s new morning host by yesterday.