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WLS-AM Adds Richard Roeper To Roe Conn's Show

WLS-AM 890 announced today that starting April 12th, their afternoon show will become "The Roe Conn Show with Richard Roeper." Richard Roeper is the Chicago Sun-Times columnist, a blogger, an author of numerous books, a frequent guest on various television & radio talk show, the former co-host of Roger Ebert's on "At The Movies," and still does movie reviews on his own website and for the Starz cable channel. He now will have to fit a daily radio show into his busy schedule.

Like Roe Conn himself recently did, Richard Roeper accepted a two year agreement with WLS and its parent company Citadel. The delayed start date is to give Roeper time to finish up previous commitments, including a poker tournament and a nationwide promotional tour for his newest book, "Bet the House: How I Gambled Over a Grand a Day for 30 Days on Sports, Poker, and Games of Chance."

The announcement comes as a bit of a surprise to some. WLS-AM recently removed Mancow Mueller's morning program from the air, despite decent ratings, in order for the station to go in a more serious political direction, something WLS' more politically conservative-leaning audience wanted. Roe Conn's political leanings tended to be rather central & moderate, so a more conservative co-host was expected. Roeper's political views have tended to be much more moderate to liberal leaning. This goes counter to the very right-wing syndicated programming on either side of the Roe Conn Show.

Politics aside, this is a huge gain for WLS' line-up. Roeper is very comfortable on the radio and with Roe Conn, as recent guest spots on the Roe Conn Show have proven. This is far from Richard Roeper's first time on the radio. He has hosted or co-hosted shows on Chicago radio many times before, including on WLS-AM, WLS-FM, WLUP-FM & AM1000 (WLUP-AM/WMVP-AM). His radio work with the Tribune's Rick Kogan on the show "Media Creatures" (along with Kathy Voltmer) was very highly received. Roeper famously quit in the middle of one of his solo shows while working at AM1000. He found out that management was bringing in a then-unknown Steve Cochran as a co-host. Roeper felt he was being pushed out and simply exited the station right then & there, leaving the stunned producer and newsperson to finish the show by themselves.

He appears to be genuinely thrilled about returning to the radio biz, though. Richard Roeper told the Sun-Times today, "I'm really excited. I hadn't done radio in a long time, but when I decided I wanted to get back into it, I couldn't think of a better fit for me. So I'm really pumped for this."

The new "Roe & Richard" show is not expected to focus on politics as much as the rest of WLS-AM's line will. It will be more of a current events and pop culture program. "It will be the two of us kicking around whatever is happening that day," Roeper said, "with a heavy emphasis on what's happening here in Chicago."


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