As Chicago Radio Turns
December 18, 2008 at 5:11 AM (PT)
Just about every development in the strange and crazy world of CHICAGO radio has a backstory. And LEWIS LAZARE in THE CHICAGO SUN-TIMES writes the backstory pieced together about the sudden move of PD BOB SHOMPER from TRIBUNE News/Talk WGN-A to CITADEL Talk WLS-A may be one of the strangest and craziest ever.
We've never known of a radio general manager who willingly -- even eagerly -- desired to hand over a station's PD to a competitor, but that apparently was the case with WGN VP/GM TOM LANGMYER.
Casting himself in the unusual role of a saintlike benevolent figure in a bizarre behind-the-scenes radio saga, LANGMYER evidently became aware a while ago that the politically conservative SHOMPER had grown increasingly unhappy in that job at WGN-A, which has evolved into a station with a relatively liberal bent. At least in comparison to CITADEL's WLS-A, where, since his arrival there earlier this year, Market Mgr. MIKE FOWLER has been reworking things to transform his station into a worthy rival to WGN-A.
So with LANGMYER's blessing, SHOMPER began negotiating his jump to WLS-A while the WGN-A boss searched for SHOMPER's replacement. When LANGMYER's choice, KEVIN METHENY, was announced this week at almost the same moment WLS-A was announcing SHOMPER's arrival, a lot of savvy types in the Chicago broadcasting world started scratching their heads and wondering why METHENY? In explaining his decision in an e-mail, LANGMYER made reference to METHENY's "real ear for talent" and his status as a "proven coach with a winning track record," noting METHENY had managed to make a news/talk station #1 in the CLEVELAND market.
More skeptical radio executives in CHICAGO believe LANGMYER's choice of METHENY, who left his last job three months ago, had little or nothing to do with his victories in CLEVELAND. Rather they suspect the choice was more about METHENY's being an "old buddy," as one source put it, of TRIBUNE CO. COO RANDY MICHAELS.
For his part, SHOMPER wasn't talking much about his change in jobs. He would only say he is looking forward to coaching the on-air talent at WLS-A and helping make the station stronger.