Lite’s out on Valentine: Now it’s ‘Corder & Karen’

Chicago radio veteran Jeff Corder thought he was interviewing for a nighttime vacancy on WLIT-FM (93.9), the Clear Channel adult contemporary station. By the time it was over, he’d talked his way into the top job as morning personality.

Corder, a south suburban native who spent 13 years working nights and weekends at WTMX-FM (101.9), left the Hubbard Radio station involuntarily in December 2010. Within the next week or so, he’ll return to the air as host of a new local morning show on Lite FM with Karen Williams, who’s staying on as co-host and news anchor.

Airing from 5 to 9am Monday through Friday, Corder & Karen in the Morning will replace Sean Valentine, Clear Channel’s Los Angeles-based personality who’s been hosting a partially live but mostly voice-tracked morning show for Lite FM since September 2009.

“We're very excited about it,” Tony Coles, vice president of programming and operations for Clear Channel Chicago and program director of WLIT, told me in an interview Monday. “The fact that Jeff has spent his entire adult life in Chicago and a long time on the air here really stands out — his knowledge of the market, his knowledge of the station, his knowledge of our listeners. And the timing was just right.”

Valentine’s last day on the station was Friday. The new show, now in rehearsals, will debut whenever Coles deems it ready. “I want to make sure that Jeff and Karen are comfortable and confident and feel good when they hit the air,” he said.

The idea for the change came to Coles while he was considering Corder for the vacancy left by Delilah Renee, whose syndicated nighttime show was dropped last March. “It was during our interview process that Jeff made the comment that if he could do anything, his goal would be to do mornings,” Coles recalled. “The more I talked to him, the more I realized I’d probably rather have him in morning drive than at night. He actually was my lead candidate for nights and then completely sidetracked me.” For now, the nighttime position remains unfilled.

Despite Valentine’s heavy workload involving multiple morning shows and other duties, Coles said he was very pleased with Valentine’s performance here. “I’ve never worked with any air talent — whether they were off site or on site — who was more obsessed about trying to win. He really was that kind of guy,” he said. “But it’s more a matter of what’s the right show right now for Lite.”

In the latest Arbitron Portable People Meter survey, Valentine’s morning show underperformed Lite FM, finishing in eighth place with a 4.0 percent share among women between the ages of 25 and 54. Overall, the station ranked seventh with a 4.8 share in its target demo.

Coles said there were no plans to change the station’s mainstream adult contemporary format. “There’s never been any discussion of it being anything else.”


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Laura Baginski, Editor (@TimeOutChicago)