Dan McNeil teases radio comeback for early 2015

Dan McNeil

While wishing his Twitter and Facebook followers a happy New Year, Dan McNeil teased that a radio comeback may happen sooner rather than later.

McNeil elaborated a bit further via Facebook saying “for those of you who’ve said you’ve missed me on the air…thanks for the “love” and there will be news within a month or so.”

With no further details, McNeil’s fans are left to guess where he may resurface and in what capacity. While contract negotiations between McNeil and his former employer WSCR-AM/670 The Score broke off in August, there’s been no reports or other hints of any ill will preventing the two sides from working together again.

If McNeil were to return to The Score, would it be back to full-time or more of a part-time capacity? If full-time, the obvious question is where and at the expense of which current daytime Score show? McNeil’s former Score midday show partner Matt Spiegel is now paired with ex Bear Patrick Mannelly. While ratings have declined since McNeil’s departure, any change to the Score’s morning show (Mike Mulligan and Brian Hanley) or afternoon show (Terry Boers and Dan Bernstein) would be quite the surprise (unless of course Boers does decide to retire or some of the other hosts are re-shuffled).

A part-time capacity for McNeil seemingly shouldn’t be out of the question, as McNeil himself has admitted that he discussed such possibilities with Score’s Operations Manager Mitch Rosen. McNeil who appeared to be burnt out near the end of his last Score run might benefit from a lighter workload on weekends or filling in for sick or vacationing Monday-Friday hosts. A part-time role might be enough to satisfy his radio itch without the five day a week grind.

I also wouldn’t rule out the possibility of McNeil doing something completely different, perhaps with something involving his love of music. With plenty of FM rock stations in town, perhaps some sort of role might exist for him somewhere? One possible place might even be Score sister station WXRT-FM 93.1, which is also managed by Rosen.

The idea of McNeil returning to WMVP-AM/ESPN 1000 would be a huge surprise, and in my opinion, unlikely. While I had early hopes that he would surface in afternoons on WGWG-LP/88.7 The Game, that is no longer an option now that the Tribune Media sports/talk format has ceased operations. Another possibility, though seemingly slim, might be for McNeil to surface on WGN-AM 720, which is rumored to be re-tooling its own sports presence (while the weekend “Sports Central” show is believed to be on its way out, some sports programming is still expected to exist, though it would make sense to involve former talent from 88.7 The Game).

Perhaps wishful thinking, I still wish an opportunity would allow McNeil to partner with his former producer Ben Finfer, who is now available following his stint at 88.7 The Game. Finfer is a young and energetic host with strong opinions, which would contrast well with McNeil. I always thought that Finfer, who frequently worked on air along-side McNeil while filling in for Spiegel, made for a better on air partner.

I have previously suggested shortening the shifts of the midday and afternoon shows and scheduling McNeil for an early afternoon slot (in which he would be paired with Finfer). With how budget tight The Score is though, I would guess that such a scenario of an added show, which would include salaries and benefits, would be unlikely.

All we can do now is wait and see if anything materializes in the next month or so. Echoing the words McNeil used to finish his Facebook post, stay tuned.

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