By the end of Jimmy de Castro’s first day as president and general manager of WGN-AM 720 on Monday, Bill White had been relieved of his duties as program director while Mitch Rosen (pictured, right) was the leading candidate to replace him.
While we now know that Rosen, program director at WSCR-AM/670 The Score is not going to WGN, the waters around Tribune Tower have quickly become turbulent (quite the contrast to what I said on Sunday when suggesting de Castro would not impose immediate change).
While Rosen declining WGN is newsworthy, the decision to stay at the Score may be more prominent. It shows a tremendous amount of confidence by Rosen to both the Score and parent company CBS Radio. With the volatility that has become so common in radio these days (and CBS Radio being no stranger to such behavior), I don’t see how Rosen declines such an opportunity without first knowing that his current position is not only secured, but that he’ll be able to continue operating with the freedom and flexibility he’s had for the better part of four years.
As a passionate radio fan, I can’t help but find myself at the edge of my seat when thinking about today’s corporate radio culture. In January, a “Secret Squirrel” post on Mike Anderson’s STLMedia.net blog noted that CBS Radio was on the verge of selling their St. Louis cluster of stations, including KMOX-AM 1120 to Cumulus Media. The very thought of that happening was enough to ruffle the feathers of those within the St. Louis radio bubble. Not helping, I’m sure, was the recently formed alliance between CBS Radio and Cumulus in the launching of the CBS Sports Radio network. If the CBS Radio/Cumulus deal happened in St. Louis (it hasn’t), what kind of ramifications might that have in other markets where CBS Radio has an abundance of stations?
As for Rosen, I had mixed emotions about him possibly taking the WGN job. With WGN and the Score being the two Chicago stations I listen to the most, I found myself wondering which station would benefit the most by having him. Rosen has proved he is capable of managing big named personalities and egos, while also having a pulse for what works in today’s radio environment. While I hesitate to give him full credit for the Score’s modern day ratings success (I think the arrival of Dan McNeil and the leftover staleness at ESPN 1000/WMVP-AM were huge catalyst), I came to the conclusion that perhaps, Rosen has done all he could at the Score and was ready for a new challenge.
That certainly would have been justification for taking the job. Now that challenge is left for someone else.
While the search for WGN’s new program director continues, I am left with one question… does de Castro have a plan B?
For more about Mitch Rosen, I highly suggest listening to the interview he did with the “Radiogirl” Margaret Larkin from earlier this year.