Roe Conn on WGN seems most logical, if not obvious

Roe ConnWhile Steve Dahl was debuting his new WLS-AM 890 afternoon show yesterday, Roe Conn, the former occupant of that spot, wrote a heartfelt note to his followers on Facebook.

Thanks again to everyone for your incredibly kind words. It has been the honor of my life to a part of your lives for the past two and a hallf decades. Like all transitions, this one has its challenges, but please know, I’ve been able to read all of your comments and will answer as many as a I can.

I’m not able to answer the most dominant question, “what’s next,” quite yet. But I promise, you will be the first to know when that decision is finally made. I plan on being back in your ears soon, but in the meantime you can catch me mornings on Windy City Live on ABC7 and tomorrrow night I’ll be on Fox32’s election night coverage. Fasten your seatbelts, I have a lot to say!

Conn has been mostly quiet on the social media front since his final show at WLS, October 7. Asides from a thank you note to his fans the following day, much of his social media activity has taken place at 5 p.m. on Fridays, with references to the canarble wagon segment, an iconic mainstay of his show each Friday afternoon. While off the radio airwaves, Conn’s kept busy with his regular appearances on WLS-TV/ABC 7’s “Windy City Live.” Conn will also appear tonight on WFLD-TV/Fox 32’s special election coverage.

It should also be worth noting that since Conn’s departure from WLS, all content has been removed from his website (which hadn’t been updated since 2012). There is now a note staying that a new website is coming soon.

New Roe Conn Website Coming Soon

As for what is next for Conn, the most logical, if not obvious, spot for him to re-surface is down the dial on WGN-AM 720. However, as we all have become accustomed to, what appears to be the most logical or obvious doesn’t usually happen in radio these days.

Robert Feder wrote yesterday on his blog that his sources at WGN have said there’s been no job offer made so far. One of the many reasons Conn’s arrival at WGN would seem to be imminent is because he and WGN’s President and General Manager, Jimmy de Castro, are in fact friends. I’ll also point out that in a Aug. 20, 2013 Robert Feder post hyping de Castro’s re-launch of WGN, Conn was specifically mentioned as being on the general manager’s wish list. And for the record, also on that list was John Williams and Steve Dahl.

Having listened to enough of Conn through the years, I get the sense that he would absolutely love the more relaxed talk format at WGN, where he would presumably not be forced to keep the conversation as news and politics heavy as he was at WLS. Ironically, it was Conn’s WLS replacement, Dahl, who once complained on his own podcast how former WLS program director Drew Hayes was annoyingly adamant about keeping the non-heavyweight news and political talk to a minimum (back when Dahl regularly filled in for Conn’s co-host, Richard Roeper).

Personally, I do hope Conn lands at WGN. In my opinion, Conn is a genuine talk radio heavyweight that would be a valuable asset there. One of Feder’s readers commented on yesterday’s blog post saying “if it is happening in Chicago, Roe is the person you want to listen to and find out what is really going on.” That, I agree with 100%.

If Conn does land at WGN, the obvious question is where and at the expense of who? Below is the lineup I would schedule if it were up to me. This is NOT a prediction of what I think would happen.

  • Steve Cochran, 5 a.m. – 9 a.m.
    Cochran in studio and ready to work by 5.
  • Bill Leff & Wendy Snyder, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
    I agree with the sentiment that their style of show sounds better at this time of day as opposed to late afternoons.
  • John Williams, 12 p.m. to 1 p.m.
    Williams’ ratings have never been outstanding, but he has a tremendous amount of goodwill will with listeners and advertisers. I have wondered if his being in Minnesota has posed any hindrance on that though. To make room in the lineup, I’d schedule Williams for just the one hour, having him anchor the “Business Lunch” format. A more business themed format would also be a good opportunity to have him correspond more with Orion Samuelson, which always makes for great radio.
  • Garry Meier, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
    Meier sounded good while holding down the 1-4 p.m. slot when first hired at WGN. Move him off WGN.FM and put him back on the mainstream blowtorch. An absolute no-brainer.
  • Roe Conn, 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
    His WLS audience shrunk in afternoons, but I believe that was due to excessive commercial and traffic interruptions; not helping was severely weak programming in the morning. While commercials and the length of news is still a problem at WGN, I think Conn would benefit with their looser clock,  having more freedom to talk about non-news heavy topics while being surrounded by new people (i.e. Steve Bertrand and Leslie Keiling).
  • Pete McMurray, 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.
    While I’m not a huge fan of McMurray, he brings a  younger and fresher voice, providing a much needed contrast to WGN’s other long-standing and iconic talent. He lands big name guests and seemingly fits in well when filling in during other dayparts. In all reality, McMurray is being underutilized in the evening. I’m sure even his bosses would agree. There simply hasn’t been enough hours in the day to yet allow him to move up. Then again, having a talented voice in the evening slot should in theory make the overall station stronger.

The removal of Bob Sirott and Marianne Murciano from WGN’s lineup, in my opinion, should have been made yesterday. While I don’t necessarily dislike their program, I think it is the least exciting and stimulating show in their daytime lineup.

Roe Conn and Garry MeierOne should-be obvious show idea missing from my above lineup is a reunited Conn and Meier. I would love nothing more than for a second run of “Roe and Garry,” but I just don’t think there is any chance of that happening. Meier has specifically stated on multiple occasions that he has zero interest in working with a partner. Also, it’s not like Meier is the type of person who easily forgives and forgets. Even if the money and opportunity for success was right, I’m not sure Meier would cave on this.

Though never declared publically, it would not shock me at all if de Castro – who likely knew Conn would be a free agent by the start of 2015 – had already broached the idea to Meier, and didn’t get the answer he wanted. Meier’s likely unwillingness to work with Conn, or any other partner, might very well be why he was banished to the garbage dump that is WGN.FM.

That said, I think both Meier and Conn are professional enough to be willing to work separate shows back-to-back of each other. If not, they could at least work their individual shows and if necessary, borrow Jonathon Brandmeier’s black curtain to make sure neither makes eye contact with the other.

While Conn going to WGN is not yet a slam dunk, it is seemingly the most likely place for him to re-surface at in 2015. That is until the radio gods once again remind us to never bet on anything that half-way resembles logic.

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