UPDATE – SPRING, 2016: While Garry Meier is no longer broadcasting on WGN Radio, he is now podcasting several times a week (usually two free shows a week, with two or three bonus shows a week for paid subscribers). To learn more, visit GarryMeier.com.
The popular question right now is either “where is Garry Meier?” or “why was he fired?”
To answer the first question, he’s now “on the beach.” The answer to the second question… only a few people for sure know. Either way, the recently demoted WGN-AM 720 afternoon drive host was sent home from the Tribune Tower for good and will no longer be doing his online WGN.FM show.
For whatever reason, Meier had a falling out with his boss, Jimmy de Castro, the president and general manager of WGN, which led to him being taken off AM 720 to begin with this past May. Some have speculated the rift could have begun when Meier refused to return Steve Dahl’s phone call, even after de Castro himself having possibly urged Meier to– about possibly doing something together at their Radio Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
The more likely scenario, in my opinion, involves Meier’s likely unwillingness to work with a partner. During a March, 2010 interview on Margaret Lakin’s Radiogirl Podcast, Meier specifically stated he had no desire to share billing with a partner, going as far to clarify that even his WGN sidekick, “Elton Jim” Turano was no more than just that, a sidekick.
In August, 2013, a lengthy Chicago Tribune piece profiling an upcoming reboot of the iconic station mentioned Castro’s desire to pair Meier with a co-host. Chicago media reporter Robert Feder echoed similar sentiments about a possible co-host for Meier in his own piece profiling the then upcoming changes at WGN.
The new co-host for Meier never happened for whatever reason. One month later, in September, Feder wrote a piece announcing that WGN afternoon traffic reporter Leslie Keiling would take a more “prominent role as a contributor to Meier’s afternoon show.” It never happened. Keiling had already been a regular voice on the show, officially or unofficially, and the amount of time she talked never changed.
The above examples are just some of the potential scenarios that may have led to a rift between Meier and de Castro. While I have been hard on de Castro in my two previous posts, the honest truth is, only a few people truly understand the circumstances which ultimately led to Meier’s departure from WGN. Based on collective soundbites over the years from Meier, his former co-host Roe Conn, as well as a few friends and acquaintances of my own, I definitely do believe Meier isn’t exactly the easiest person to work with or to necessarily please.
Whatever Meier might be like off air, his on air persona was very popular and highly successful for Tribune Media. As the highest paid talent at the station, WGN seemingly left a lot of money on the table by demoting him from terrestrial to online only. Now, with Meier’s show gone entirely (while continuing to collect that hefty paycheck until autumn of 2015) and station management refusing further explanation or a simple on-air acknowledgement of the issue, de Castro appears to simply be standing his ground…
Or perhaps, stomping his feet while holding his breath.