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John Williams To Exit WGN-AM In December

John Williams and WGN Radio today announced that the midday host will be exiting the radio station near the end of December. He will be moving to the Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN area, where he and his wife have recently purchased a home.

Williams will be giving up his Noon-3:00pm show on WGN-AM, and will instead focus full-time on his Minneapolis afternoon radio show for WCCO-AM, where he has worked since April 2010. In addition to purchasing a home near WCCO-AM, John Williams will now be near one of his two sons, who attends the University of Minnesota.

Williams previously worked at WCCO-AM from 1993-1997, just prior to his coming to WGN-AM.

When it became clear in 2010 that then-Tribune Company CEO Randy Michaels and then-WGN Radio Program Director Kevin Metheny were going to fire John Williams to make room for some controversial hosts out of Cincinnati, Williams (with some inside help) reached out to WCCO-AM about possibly returning there. He did a few weeks of fill-in work, which led him to accepting a full-time role there. When one of the two Cincinnati host friends of Michaels & Metheny backed out of the deal at the last minute, Williams' job at WGN-AM was spared, leaving him with two full-time radio jobs. Because he was able to do so, Williams wisely held on to both jobs as a precaution.

While he has done occasional shows from the WCCO-AM studios, most of his broadcasts for the Minneapolis station have been done remotely from an unused WGN-AM studio -- a fact he did not hide from his listeners. Thanks in part to a great relationship with now-former General Manager Tom Langmyer, WCCO-AM has gladly worked with WGN-AM to accommodate the tough schedule for Williams. The current WCCO-AM Program Director is none other than former WGN-AM Program Director Bob Shomper, which helped out as well.

As has been the case with other high profile exits from Tribune Broadcasting properties in the last few weeks, this is being painted to the public as John Williams just happily voluntarily exiting WGN-AM. While this is not a true "firing," Williams is just jumping off the ship under his own power and by his own terms before he was set to be pushed off. As with other recent exits, including yesterday's departure of Vice President and General Manager Tom Langmyer, this move has been in the planning stages for a while by all parties involved and is by no means a surprise to those within the company.

The silver lining is that unlike so may radio exits in recent years, Williams has a job to fall back on at least and can continue to support his family doing what he loves. Additionally, Chicago fans of "King John" can still listen to him via WCCO-AM's webstream each weekday afternoon, if they choose.

In an email that went out to his co-workers this afternoon, John Williams had these words to say:

As you probably know, in addition to my show here at WGN, I also do the 3-6 pm show at WCCO in Minneapolis. After a great deal of thought, after the 1st of January, Brenda and I have decided to move to Minneapolis and my time here will come to an end. I decided some time ago to do just one show - as well as I can - and that one will be at WCCO. Both stations and staffs deserve as much.

For now please know that I will do the best show I can until my time here is over and will help you in any way to do the best work you can, too. We've had a lot of Bright Sides here. I never got to be King, but you've always made me feel like royalty.


In a statement today, WGN Radio Program Director Bill White said: "John is a great broadcaster and has been a valued member of the WGN Radio family. While we are sad to see him go, we are happy for John and his family that they are able to return to Minneapolis, where they lived before moving to Chicago. We wish him all the best and know that he will continue to shine in his role at WCCO."

A replacement host for John Williams' time slot will be named prior to Williams' exit in December.

John Williams, 53, is a Chicago native, who was raised in Joliet, and currently lives in the western suburbs (for two more months, anyway). Prior to working for WCCO-AM or WGN-AM, Williams worked briefly at WSPY-FM in Plano, followed by an 11 year run at WMBD-AM in Peoria. Before all that, he cut his teeth as an intern at WGN-AM.

Even with the exit of Langmyer and the upcoming exit of John Williams, many more changes are expected at WGN-AM before the end of this year.

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