Chicago’s leading conservative radio station is WLS-AM – an ABC affiliate. While the station is praised for its morning drive and afternoon drive hosts and for having the syndicated Rush Limbaugh program mid-days, the rest of the day has problems of which Chicagoans are subjected to if they want to listen to conservative radio.
The day starts with Don Wade and Roma, a super-conservative show which likely often-gags the most conservative listener and causes him to reach for the radio dial and go elsewhere. Mid-day, Rush Limbaugh does his controversial yet entertaining talk show. As much as he’s over the edge, he is entertaining most of the time. Of course, Sandra Fluke would beg to differ.
After that, from 2 to 6 p.m., the screeching voice of Roe Conn and the pleasant radio voice of Richard Roeper – when Roeper has time to do the show – do a very entertaining and very informative program. When Roeper needs to take a day off, the show definitely suffers. He provides the on-air chemistry of which Roe Conn works with extremely well. Other radio partners have not worked well with Roe Conn in the past, and Steve Dahl - the permanent fill-in for Roeper when he isn't on the show these days - isn't cutting it either.
If you haven’t heard Roe and Roeper's “Top 5 at 5 (o’clock)”, you haven't experienced Chicago radio at its very best! Previously, the Ron Magers segment at 3 to 3:30 was allegedly the greatest half hour in Chicago radio. With Roe and Roeper's Top 5 at 5, the Mager's segment falls to a distant second place.
Then comes the next 11 hours of problematic programming.
WLS airs the highly informative and popular Sean Hannity Show from 6 to 9 p.m. While the show is interesting and Hannity has great guests to move the show along, it’s a rebroadcast from earlier in the day. The problem with a delayed broadcast or rebroadcast is obvious. When a show’s theme is up-to-the-minute politics, delayed broadcasts are not up-to-the-minute.
For example, on Election Day, after the polls have closed, Hannity is telling Chicago listeners that the polls are open for another two hours and discussing two-hour old news. When Obama makes a speech at 7 p.m., Hannity is predicting - at 8 p.m. - what Obama’s going to say when the speech was already broadcast live as an interrupter during his show. It doesn't make sense. Rebroadcasts have many time-related concerns when extremely current political news is the theme of the show.
The lecture-laden Mark Levin Show is in a delayed broadcast from 9-to-12 in the evening. While he has the same time-delayed concerns of the Hannity Show, it’s not as big of a problem because his show isn't what one would call up-to-the-minute anyway. Though Levin is very informed on his political topics, many people may have a difficult time listening to the show since he has few guests or callers of which he interacts with throughout most programs. An option to Levin's often-times guest-less or caller-less show is Alan Colmes down the dial. Colmes is a hard-core progressive, but has respect for most views on his show. And, there's nothing wrong with hearing what the "other side" of the political spectrum is saying about conservatives now and then.
A newer show on WLS of late is the overnight Red Eye program. It replaced Coast to Coast, a well-known radio program that was on WLS for years before disappearing. Red Eye is quite good as two guys sit around talking about social issues and politics for hours and hours. Like Hannity, they are very current.
Though many don’t like hearing radio hosts argue with as many callers as of whom they argue, it seems to work at that hour and with those hosts. While many talk show hosts don’t argue well on the air, it’s actually entertaining to hear the Red Eye hosts yell at callers who disagree with them at times.
The problem with the overnight is the alleged policy of WLS/ABC in Chicago. Whether it’s to save money or because somebody in charge is totally asleep at the wheel, they are airing weekend shows – Friday and Saturday – a day or two after they were originally broadcast live in the same time slot. Quite oddly, WLS is airing the exact same programs on Friday and Saturday night that they aired for five hours on Wednesday or Thursday.
That means, on Friday night, WLS listeners heard that “in the next 24 hours, the Supreme Court is going to make a decision that will have a dramatic effect on our lives” – the health care decision. The obvious problem is that everybody knew the Supreme Court's decision two days before that. This is an extremely asinine programming schedule for any radio station to have - especially a station of WLS-ABC’s caliber.
WLS-AM 890 needs to show a little respect for its listeners in regard to weekend programming. They could at least announce at the beginning of the program that this show was aired two days ago – or yesterday – and then proceed. Or better yet, they could put something else in that time slot.
If they really have to rebroadcast shows to save money – or for whatever reason – they should re-broadcast the Roe and Roeper program from earlier in the day on Fridays. After all, many people who listen to the radio at night probably don’t have the opportunity to listen during the afternoon when Roe and Roeper are live. That would make much better sense than airing the same show that was broadcast last night or the night before in the same time slot.
Saving money is one thing – these overnight reruns a night or two after the original broadcast are simply a waste of airtime.
Again, Chicago needs a conservative radio station that will do things right. For Monday through Friday evening and weekend late night listeners, WLS is not using its time wisely.
They could probably do some local shows with air personalities who would work for low wages in this economy. Anything – absolutely anything – would be better than rerunning last night’s show in the same time slot.
Again, it’s incredibly disrespectful to the listeners who obviously end up flipping the dial, many of whom likely never return. It's simply programming at its most asinine.