It’s showtime for Steve Dahl, who returns to terrestrial radio today as the new WLS-AM 890 afternoon host. It will be interesting to see if Dahl can give WLS the steady boost that it badly needs, and how his ratings compare to his predecessors, Roe Conn and Richard Roeper.
I expect Dahl will boost afternoons for the station, at least in the beginning. Eliminating traffic and weather updates every 10 minutes to minimize interruptions is a nice start. Another problem that plagued the “Roe & Roeper” show was excessive commercials. If that isn’t addressed, Dahl’s numbers will eventually drop.
The sure thing is that Dahl can’t save WLS by himself. The morning situation there really ought to be addressed, though there is no guarantee with the notoriously cheap station owner, Cumulus Media. If they do decide to make a change, for example, to their morning drive program, there are a few routes they can go down.
They can attempt to stick with the conservative format, but instead go with more lively, interesting and less partisan personalities. Other options could be going with a more general news/talk type of show, with someone like a Rob Hart, who is already employed at sister station, The Loop/WLUP-FM 97.9. Pair him with a female co-host and you might have something a bit different from the morning programs on either WBBM-AM 780 or WGN-AM 720. A third option might be leaning more towards a lighter entertainment based talk format. J.C. Corcoran, who grew up in the Chicago area and spent most of his professional radio career in St. Louis, is one possible name who could fill that role. Corcoran isn’t at all timid to muse on current news and and politics when he sees fit. I’m not saying Corcoran should get the job. He is the example I went with because I am a fan of his and because he has been one of the fill-in hosts for various WLS shows of late.
As for Dahl’s afternoon spot, not everyone is happy that he’s coming back. The obvious unhappy bunch would be many of the displaced “Roe & Roeper” fans. Another group of people unhappy are the Dahl haters. A third group, consisting of his fans and his haters are those who understand that hiring him is just one more example of how poorly talk radio has developed fresh and younger voices. That, I can agree with, which brings me to the image at the top of this post, which I think appropriately reflects what WLS hiring Steve Dahl signifies.
“Been here. Done that.”
By the way, that graphic wasn’t made by either myself or anyone from the Dahl hater’s club. It was an actual image slider that rotated on the old WCKG-FM 105.9 website dating back to 2008, where Dahl last worked afternoon drive. Though I didn’t know why then, I knew use of that graphic seemed out of place.
Saving it for 2014 would have been much more appropriate.