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Even More Changes At WIQI-FM: Jarrett To Mornings, Talks Shows, More

WIQI-FM/FM News 101.1 continues to make change after change after change in an attempt to figure some combination that will connect with listeners. In its latest change coming Monday, former WGN-AM morning show host and veteran newsman Greg Jarrett joins the staff and takes over as morning host.

Greg Jarrett had taken part as one of the many hosts in WIQI-FM's recent "expanded news" experiment, which had the station abandon its news format to do talk shows in midday and weekends. Jarrett had done four days last week doing this experiment with a different co-host each day. He also did one week co-hosting the morning news with Rob Hart & Mary Ellen Geist in January.

Locally, Greg Jarrett is best known for his time as the highly-rated host of WGN-AM's morning show. On December 2nd last year, WGN-AM management decided to take the talk station in a different direction and parted ways with Greg Jarrett, who still had a few months to go on his three-year contract. Jarrett, who just recently celebrated his 41st anniversary in radio, joined WGN-AM in June 2009. An unknown to Chicago audiences, Jarrett was given the position due to his vast resume of news experience, including many years at San Fransisco's KGO-AM and as a news correspondent for two decades with ABC News. During that time, he covered news in Iraq, Bosnia, Somalia, as well as all over the U.S. Though he had improved the ratings at WGN-AM over the two morning shows that preceded his, the journalistic news-based approach to his show never quite caught on with the WGN loyalists who wished for less of a departure from the more lighter personality-type of morning show that WGN-AM was long known for. Jarrett was #1 in the all ages Arbitron ratings for his time slot for 21 out of the 30 months he was there (#2 the other 9 months).

Jarrett will now take over as morning host, working alongside Monica DeSantis as morning news anchor, from 5:00am-10:00am weekdays. The change begins this Monday, June 25th.

This is far from the only change taking place. Morning news anchors Rob Hart & Mary Ellen Geist now move to a 10:00am-Noon shift, with Rob Hart doing "expanded news" (news-oriented talk & opinion) and Mary Ellen Geist providing news updates.

Also gaining his own "expanded news" program is John Czahor, who will be doing a talk show from 10:00pm-Midnight starting Monday.

Afternoons could soon be in for big changes, as well. In recent weeks, various guests have taken part in the trial versions of WIQI-FM's "expanded news" programming, including aforementioned newsman Greg Jarrett, radio funnymen Geoff Pinkus and Kevin Matthews, disgraced Chicago politician Jim Laski, and syndicated small market shock jock Mancow. More of these experiments with special guests could continue for a while.

Nothing is confirmed yet, but the station is strongly considering having an afternoon talk show featuring Mancow. It also marks a return of sorts to 101.1 for Matthew Erich "Mancow" Muller , who previously worked at that frequency when it was WKQX-FM from 1998-2006. This would be the fifth station Mancow has worked at in Chicago since the mid-90s, with former stations including WRCX-FM & WLS-AM. If this hiring does take place, the WIQI-FM show would be a talk show show unique to the station and not a repeat of Mancow's syndicated morning talk show. That show can still be heard locally on suburban WJJG-AM.

WIQI-FM/FM News 101.1 continues to have severe ratings issues. After toiling at the bottom of the ratings since its debut the end of last summer, largely due to the station's ownership refusing to advertise or publicize the station to the general public, all eyes were on this most recent rating period for FM News 101.1, which would be the first since promotions began. A billboard campaign was launched across Chicagoland, which in turn generated a hefty amount of publicity for the station due to its making fun of former Illinois Governor Blagojevich. Many TV stations, newspapers, periodicals and website ran stories on the controversy, which gave WIQI-FM even more publicity. During the weeks of the most recent ratings period, arguably no other station in Chicago had as much publicity and was thrust into the public eye as FM News 101.1 was. Unfortunately, the radio station only went up from a 0.3 share to a 0.4 share in the 6+ numbers -- far away from cracking the Top 20 as many had hoped, and not even reaching the Top 30 for Chicago radio stations. It remains the lowest rated major Chicago FM station. WIQI-FM has since dropped its 24/7 newscasts and has begun to mix in news-oriented talk programming in the hopes of raising the ratings out of the cellar, as well as hoping the addition of Greg Jarrett will help bring in more listeners to its station. Time will tell if any of the many changes will have a positive effect.

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