ESPN game plan: Cadillac of showcase studios on State Street

High levels of radio activity:


  • Downtown visitors soon will have another street-level studio to observe real live broadcasters talking into microphones. ESPN Radio announced plans Monday to construct a showcase studio (artist rendering above) for sports/talk WMVP-AM (1000) at 190 North State Street. Sponsored by Cadillac, the new glass booth is expected to open in September alongside the showcase studio that’s been used for ABC 7 newscasts since 2006. “When completed, the one-of-a-kind Cadillac ESPN Chicago State Street Studio will be a great way to showcase the ESPN Chicago family to thousands of Chicagoans daily,” John Cravens, vice president and general manager of the station, said in a statement. One question: Does this mean their guys will have to wear clean shirts now?


  • Is raunch master Randy Michaels trying to put the band back together? The hottest rumor in radio involves the imminent sale of one or both of Emmis Communications’ distressed Chicago stations — alternative rock WKQX-FM (101.1) and classic rock WLUP-FM (97.9). An announcement could come this morning when top Emmis execs Jeff Smulyan and Pat Walsh are expected to join market chief Marv Nyren at an all-Chicago staff meeting. If former Tribune Co. CEO Michaels and his minions step in, look for them to switch Q101 or the Loop to a news/talk format. (Paging Kevin Metheny?) Most of Michaels’ former Jacor and Clear Channel Radio cabal have been biding time since they were forced out of Tribune Tower last fall.


  • The consultant for Crawford Broadcasting calls them merely “strategic changes” at urban contemporary WPWX-FM (92.3). But the bloodbath June 10 that cost the jobs of most of the station’s full-time air staff — and relegated Tom Joyner’s syndicated morning show to sister station WSRB-FM (106.3) alone — looks more like a retreat. After 10 years of nominal competition with Clear Channel Radio urban giant WGCI-FM (107.5), Power 92 appears to be off the grid. In the Arbitron survey for May, the station tied for 27th place with a 1.5 share overall, and ranked 12th with a 3.1 share among listeners between 18 and 34. WGCI was 10th with 3.5 share overall, and third with 6.9 share in the 18-34 target demo.


  • Steve Darnall marks his second anniversary as host and producer of Those Were the Days this week with a four-hour salute to Windy City Broadcasters. He’ll feature vintage programs with such Chicago legends as Jack Eigen, Len O’Connor, John Chancellor and John Harrington. The highlight will be a roundtable Darnall taped last October with Jack Taylor, Harry Volkman and Bill Hamilton. “It was a real pleasure to bring these three gentlemen together to swap stories and jokes about their years in radio and television, and I’m really looking forward to sharing this conversation with our audience,” said Darnall, who succeeded Chuck Schaden after 39 years on the old-time radio showcase. Those Were the Days airs from 1 to 5pm Saturdays on College of DuPage’s WDCB-FM (90.9) and at


  • Chicago will be the center of the radio universe when the National Association of Broadcasters and the Radio Advertising Bureau host their annual Radio Show September 14 to 16 at the Hyatt Regency Chicago. It’s the biggest radio convention of them all. Keynote speaker will be Bob Pittman, chairman of Clear Channel Media and Entertainment Platforms. Chairing this year’s event will be Drew Horowitz, Chicago-based chief operating officer of Hubbard Radio.



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Laura Baginski, Editor (@TimeOutChicago)