Good reasons to keep an extra ear tuned to WTMJ in Milwaukee

In recent weeks, former WGN-AM 720 General Manager Tom Langmyer (pictured, right) has been keeping busy with some added consulting work for WTMJ-AM 620 in Milwaukee.  I have high respect for Langmyer and the work he did at WGN, especially for the job he did re-building the station following the disastrous Kevin Metheny era. So of course, I am interested in observing any changes, regardless how minute, that may occur at WTMJ under Langmyer’s watch.

Sometimes, it is the simple things that can help make a difference — such as simple branding. One of the changes at WTMJ since Langmyer’s arrival is the station’s branding, now dubbed “Wisconsin’s Radio Station.” Simple and to the point, much like the “Voice of Chicago” branding that WGN originally adopted in 2005 (and again re-introduced in July, 2011).  While I don’t expect a slogan to make or break a radio station, a solid branding tagline can be the first step towards extensive changes that hopefully do make a difference down the road.

An added note of interest for today is the reunion of Langmyer and Rob Hart (pictured, right), a Chicago radio news veteran. Hart, now the sports anchor for the morning show on WLUP-FM/97.9 The Loop, previously worked under Langmyer at WGN (Hart left WGN in 2011 after accepting the morning news anchor position at what would become WIQI-FM/FM News 101.1 (original FM News call letters for first few months were WWWN).  Hart will be filling in for the station’s 12pm-3pm show later today. Hart will make the quick commute to Milwaukee after finishing his morning shift at The Loop.  Hart previously worked at WTMJ as a news anchor and reporter, before moving to WGN.

I’ve been a Rob Hart fan since listening to him fill-in on WGN’s “Noon Show” in 2009 (then hosted by Bob Sirott). The personality Hart showed in that one hour went well above the news anchors who were filling in for Sirott that week. I was happy for Hart when he got more fill-in opportunities in late 2010, after Metheny was out of the picture. When Hart filled-in for morning show host Greg Jarrett for three weeks in December that year, I wrote on the message board that the station should make the bold switch and make Hart the permanent host.

At FM News 101.1 Hart was eventually moved to middays where he hosted his own two-hour talk show, which was marketed as “expanded news coverage.” Unfortunately, the gig didn’t last long as about a month later, WIQI dropped its news format to become an all-90s music format under the branding i101 FM.

Hart has shown great potential in the limited time he has had as a talk show host. I’m looking forward to listening to his show today. While I have no idea how much longer his current contract will keep him at The Loop, I can’t help but feel that his potential is being wasted as a sports anchor (which is the position that was assigned to him after the demise of FM News 101.1 – both stations are owned by Merlin Media). Whenever his time with The Loop does conclude, I suspect he won’t have too much trouble finding new work.

Any news/talk station looking for a bright, young broadcaster would be very wise in hiring him as soon as he officially becomes available.