WLIT plans changes after ratings plunge

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Posted by chicagomedia.org on July 30, 2009 at 10:10:30:

WLIT plans changes after ratings plunge

MEDIA | Forman may get a morning drive co-host, or she may be replaced

July 30, 2009


Change is coming to Clear Channel Radio Chicago's adult contemporary WLIT-FM (93.9). Sources say that Clear Channel executives are about to make a change in the morning drive program hosted by Melissa Forman.

WLIT's morning drive numbers plummeted in the June Arbitron ratings book to a 1.5 from a 2.4 in the May book in the key 25- to 54-year-old demographic -- a drop of nearly a full ratings point that apparently set off alarms in Clear Channel Radio Chicago's executive suite. A change in the program could come as early as next week.

Plan A, sources say, calls for adding a co-host to the morning drive show -- a locally based talent that could add some more punch to the proceedings and presumably boost the ratings. Clear Channel executives reportedly have their eye on a specific talent and will audition him with Forman off-air to determine how he clicks with her. Sources say two possible candidates for the job could be Spike Manton, an entertainer who has worked in various on-air capacities in Chicago radio and television, and Bill Leff, who recently exited as Roe Conn's sidekick on WLS-AM (890).

If a co-host doesn't seem the right fit with Forman, Clear Channel executives are said to have ready a Plan B, which would involve replacing Forman with a syndicated show. But Clear Channel, sources say, would prefer to avoid such an alternative because of the common belief that Chicago radio listeners prefer a locally produced product.

The changes planned at WLIT wouldn't be the first adjustments made at the station in recent years. In August 2006, Forman's morning drive show was replaced with a syndicated program fronted by Whoopi Goldberg. But Goldberg's program was gone in about a year, and Forman returned to doing morning drive in October 2007. Whatever adjustments are made to revive WLIT's morning show this time around, they won't affect the station's annual switchover in November to an all-holiday-music format. In years past, whenever WLIT has made that switch, the station has shot up in the ratings -- a development that always brings lots of smiles to Clear Channel Radio Chicago management.

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