Michael Damsky out in management shakeup at WLS

Michael Damsky, the veteran Chicago radio executive who oversaw the turnaround of news/talk WLS-AM (890) and oldies WLS-FM (94.7), was forced out Thursday as president and general manager of the Cumulus Media stations.

John Dickey, executive vice president and co-chief operating officer of Cumulus, delivered the news in person, telling Damsky the company wanted to go in a new direction. No replacement was named.

Under the previous ownership of Citadel Broadcasting, the WLS combo turned from a money loser to generating more than $10 million in annual profit during Damsky’s tenure. But sales and ratings have declined on WLS-AM in the past six months, coinciding with Cumulus ownership.

“I’m extremely proud of what we were able to accomplish in 31/2 years,” Damsky said. “When I took over as general manager, WLS-AM was without direction. We brought in great talent and worked hard to showcase them. And WLS-FM withstood the attack of a serious competitor a year ago and is stronger now than ever before.”

Before he was named president and general manager, Damsky, 62, had been vice president and director of sales for the two stations since July 2008. He previously spent 24 years at CBS Radio adult rock WXRT-FM (93.1), where he rose up the sales ranks to become vice president and general manager.

In the latest Arbitron survey, WLS-FM ranked ninth among listeners between 25 and 54 with a 3.9 percent audience share. WLS-AM ranked 24th with a 1.6 share.


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Laura Baginski, Editor (@TimeOutChicago)