Perfect fit: Edwards brings all the right stuff to K-Hits

In the 40 years since he first came to Chicago, the legendary Tommy Edwards has excelled in a wide range of radio roles on and off the air. But none fit his talent or temperament more perfectly than his long run as midday personality on WLS-AM (890).

That’s why hearing him Monday work the 10am-to-2pm shift on CBS Radio’s classic hits WJMK-FM (104.3) made all the sense in the world.

“This is my time of the day,” Edwards told me. “I’ve done all kinds of different shows — mornings and afternoons and all that — but midday shows are the ones that I’ve had the most success with and the ones I liked most. I feel very good about it.”

After 11 months of weekend and fill-in work at K-Hits, the Chicago radio veteran was called up to midday duty this week following Bo Reynolds’ ouster as afternoon host and Gary Spears’ shift from middays to afternoons. If program director Todd Cavanah likes what he hears, the arrangement could become permanent.

“Tommy brings a lot of knowledge and credibility to our format, and I am excited to see how he sounds on a daily basis instead of just weekends,” Cavanah said.

It’s hard to imagine a better fit in middays for a station that bills itself as The Greatest Hits of the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s. “The music’s my music,” Edwards said of the K-Hits format. “It’s what I played at ’LS. I certainly know it. One of the things that Todd mentioned to me is that he appreciates when I offer my insight or give details about some of the songs or the artists I play. That’s the kind of stuff I love to do.”

It was during his midday stint at WLS that Edwards forged an indelible partnership with Radio Hall of Famer Larry Lujack as “Li’l Tommy,” co-host of Lujack’s immortal Animal Stories feature. The two, who worked together again as a morning team at Clear Channel’s former Real Oldies 1690, remain close friends.

The timing of the latest move works out well, since Edwards stepped down last month as operations manager of nine Chicago Radio Online channels programmed by AccuRadio. “It was fun, but I felt it was time to cut that tie because I was putting a lot of work into it for very, very little compensation,” he said. Instead, Edwards chose to focus on his work at K-Hits and his ongoing duties as Chicago Bulls stadium announcer.

In what sounds like more of a formality, Cavanah said he’s accepting air checks from personalities who’ve worked on similar classic hits stations. But he also knows that finding anyone better than Edwards for middays may be close to impossible. “I have to say I like the way this looks on paper right now,” he said.

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Laura Baginski, Editor (@TimeOutChicago)