Out in the country: US99 shuffle looks beyond Biondo

Trish Biondo, who’s been a mainstay of country music powerhouse WUSN-FM (99.5) for more than 25 years and one of the most popular women on Chicago radio, appears to be on her way out as midday personality.

As reported here last month, the CBS Radio station chose not to pick up the second-year option on her two-year contract. Talks followed on a possible new deal, but now comes word that Biondo could be signing off by next week.

Nothing is official yet, but look for US99 to replace Biondo from 10am to 3pm weekdays with Drew Walker, who now hosts afternoons at the station. No word on who’ll take Walker’s place from 3 to 7pm weekdays.

Jeff Kapugi, who’s been program director since October 2011, reportedly objected to the practice of allowing Biondo to broadcast three days a week from home, where she looks after her two children. Although her contract provided for the arrangement, Kapugi demanded that she broadcast from the studio each day.

It’s clear there has to be more to the story since Biondo’s ratings consistently excelled. In the latest Arbitron Portable People Meter survey, her midday show ranks eighth among adults between 25 and 54 with a 3.6 percent share and cumulative weekly audience of 282,100.

Even after the expected change, Biondo still may be heard on US99 as the voice of Nashville Hotline, the country music/show-biz update she has hosted for more than 20 years. It airs at 12:20pm weekdays and streams online as a podcast.

A native of Chicago’s Southwest Side and graduate of Mother McAuley High School, Loyola University and St. Xavier University, Biondo began in the research department of US99 and moved up to research director, promotions director and music director. On the air, in addition to Nashville Hotline, she co-hosted mornings with a variety of partners for 16 years.

In 2006, Biondo succeeded Lisa Dent as midday personality after Dent was promoted to mornings.


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Laura Baginski, Editor (@TimeOutChicago)