Published on Sunday, 25 March 2012 10:09
After less than seven months on the air, WILV-FM/Rewind 100.3 has pulled the plug on its newest morning show. As of the start of this weekend, one-time Chicago radio superstar Robert Murphy and producer Scott Straus are fired from the station. Low ratings are the main reason for the quick exit.
This was Robert Murphy's second exit from a Chicago radio station in eight months. After many years away from the Chicago airwaves, Robert Murphy surprised everybody this past summer by returning to morning radio, not once, but twice. In August, Murphy hosted a morning show on the temporary Adult Contemporary station airing on Merlin Media's WKQX-FM/WWWN-FM (now WIQI-FM), just prior to its flip to news. That stunt lasted only a week and a half. However, that brief time on the air led to Hubbard Broadcasting contacting "Murph" to have him come to Rewind 100.3 to help boost their morning show ratings, only this time as a long-term solution, not a stunt. Murphy accepted and started there on September 8, 2011. He was then heard each weekday from 5:30am-10:00am.
Murphy was a top-rated radio star on WKQX-FM for a decade in the 80's and early 90s, as well as stints on WLS-FM and WXXY-FM. Unlike his past full-time shows in Chicago, the WILV-FM morning show was more music-intensive, with Murph's upbeat personality shining through in-between the music.
Shortly after the start of Murphy on Rewind 100.3, the station hired Scott Straus to be the new morning show's Producer, reuniting the pair that worked well together on WXXY-FM from 1998-2000. Straus was the Production Director and more for Clear Channel Chicago's WKSC-FM and WLIT-FM for over 11 years. Prior to his many years at Clear Channel, Straus was a Producer at WSCR-AM, WRCX-FM, and the aforementioned WXXY-FM.
Unfortunately, even with this highly-talented morning show team, the new Murphy in the Morning show did not catch on with listeners. Ratings, which started with much promise, fell sharply. The morning drive daypart was the lowest-rated one on the station. In the important 25-54 demographic, which is the station's target audience, the most recently released Arbitron radio ratings showed that mornings had fallen all the way down to a lowly 1.6 share. That gave Hubbard Broadcasting-owned WILV-FM a tie for 25th place -- far below what was expected with such incredible talent on board, and far below the ratings that the rest of the day and night was able to earn.
On his Facebook page
this afternoon, Robert Murphy took the news with his usual lighthearted sense of humor, writing: "Wow, what a wacky week in Chicago broadcasting, huh? First, we lose the Rosie O'Donnell Show, and now it grieves me to report that the Murphy in the Morning Show will no longer he heard on Rewind. In as much as I rather enjoy being the morning radio goof, I will miss it. On the other hand, I am at this moment disabling my alarm clock. Yay!!"
With Murphy and Straus now gone from the station, Rewind 100.3 will now return to a music-intensive morning show, hosted once again by Brian Peck. It was Peck that hosted the morning show before Murphy's hire. He was then moved to the afternoon drive shift and Brian Middleton was moved to evenings. With Peck back to mornings, Middleton moves back to afternoons. The station is truly doing a "Rewind," returning the staff to where it was earlier last year. A search is on to see who will now take over in the evening time slot. (David J. previously hosted nights before the Murphy hiring. He is now doing weekends/fill-in work for the station and could very well be the one to take his old time slot back, completing the "Rewind" of the line-up.)
Station veteran Susan Wiencek remains as morning news anchor, as well as the station's Public Affairs Director.
Robert Murphy's information has already been removed from the radio station's website
Updated at 1:45pm with additional information.