Chicago’s WGN News Talk 720′s tag line may be “The Voice of Chicago,” but they have been showcasing something not always associated with the media: a little inspiration, a little fun, and something else.
For most of my adult life, I considered myself a die hard NPR and WBEZ listener. After my dad passed away, I’d find myself oddly drawn to his radio station, WGN. Until then, my tuning in had been only from hearing the station broadcast at my parent’s place. Occasionally listening to WGN and hearing Paul Harvey, Orion Samuelson, Max Armstrong, Dean Richards and Spike O’Dell made me feel like I was “home” with my pops again.
Perhaps the final conversion toward actively wanting to listen to WGN occurred a few years ago when there was a flood due to a burst water main pipe by Montrose and Wolcott. Trying to get relevant coverage from WBEZ when I needed it and with updates made me feel like a tourist. They were replaying some of their hallmark, wonderful, high quality feature stories but I could not get the information I needed when I needed it about something going on in my city, in my neighborhood. My Alderman provided better updates via email. Out of frustration, I tuned to WGN. My listening habits have now switched. I’m still a WBEZ listener, but it no longer has the majority of my listening time.
With the constant media barrage putting fear into people about Swine Flu and “how bad” things are in Mexico, the last thing I wanted to hear was more fear mongering. Yesterday I heard DJ Randy Miller for the first time while he was filling in for the Kathy and Judy show. We were clearly on the same page.
Due to needing to spend time in the kitchen this morning, I turned the radio on while I worked on some kitchen projects. During this time, he featured three topics that I’ve not heard on morning radio, and I loved it. Psychic John Edwards did some readings for people who called in. It was refreshing hear him in prime radio time, and to have a controversial guest with a host who is clearly open minded.
During another segment, the focus was to have the audience call in to share how they have been the recipient of unusual kindness and/or generosity. What a great switch from the common harangue of negativity. Then Mike Regan was on. For anyone who isn’t familiar with Mike Reagan, he is an artist who not only paints portraits but who has headed up the Fallen Heroes Project.
Right now he’s featuring a “rat on your neighbors” segment, but the segment is funny and light, while also giving the callers some suggestions. This type of call in segment could be done either on the low side or the high side, and Miller is taking it on the high side. He’s been doing double shifts (does the guy ever sleep?) and it would be great to see him brought in as a full time addition.
Props to WGN for also bringing in Gary Meier. After the way WLS treated him, WGN must feel like Heaven. Unlike WLS, I’ve noticed that when WGN hosts leave, their fans and listeners are given a chance to say good-bye. That shows some respect not only for the DJ but the listening audience, as well.
I didn’t look around to see who their demographic target markets are, but with long time television personalties such as Bob Sirott and Marianne Marciano, and some of the solid anchors like Steve Bertrand, they are clearly positioning themselves for the Boomers, as well as segments of Gen X and Gen Y’ers. The classier way that they treat their staff should say a lot about their values and their view of the world that they share with listeners.