Ex-WGN host Laski buys radio time on WCPT

Jim Laski, the former Chicago alderman and city clerk who served time in federal prison for taking bribes, is resuming his on-again, off-again career in radio. But unlike his ill-fated stint on WGN-AM (720) in 2010, this time he’s paying to put his show on the air.

Starting April 27, he’ll host The Laski Files from 4 to 6pm Saturdays on Newsweb Radio progressive talk WCPT-AM (820). It also will be simulcast on the company’s three FM stations — WCPY-FM (92.5), WCPT-FM (92.7) and WCPQ-FM (99.9).

“I know he has a colorful background and am hoping it will make good radio,” Charley Gross, president of Newsweb Radio, told me. “He has insights into city politics and prison life that are unique . . . I doubt you or many of our listeners will agree with Laski — or believe Laski — on all issues, but I do expect our listeners will find it entertaining.”

Gross confirmed that Laski is buying the airtime from Newsweb, which is owned by Fred Eychaner, the Chicago media mogul and prominent contributor to Democratic political coffers and numerous liberal causes. Although Gross oversees broadcast operations, it’s impossible to imagine that Eychaner didn’t at least sign off on the Laski deal.

Laski’s eight months as evening host at WGN marked the nadir of the Tribune Broadcasting news/talk station under former program director Kevin Metheny. A radio novice, Laski not only demonstrated a lack of basic broadcasting skills, but he alienated listeners with his pugnacious, confrontational style on the air. Not surprisingly, he was the first to be fired in November 2010 after Metheny and his benefactor, Randy Michaels, were exiled from Tribune Co.

Trumpeting his radio return on his Facebook page — “I’m back!” — Laski said he was “looking for additional advertising sponsors to expand the show.”

On WCPT’s Saturday lineup, The Laski Files will follow Dick Kay’s Back on the Beat, which airs from 1 to 4pm. To accommodate the addition, David Shuster’s Take Action News will shift later to 6 to 9pm and The Costa Report will move to 9 to 10pm.


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Laura Baginski, Editor (@TimeOutChicago)