Update 2/17: Confirming what we first reported, Tribune has officially announced it will launch Sports “87.7 The Game” WGWG-LP today at 1:02pm and has set its inaugural lineup.
As previously announced, Jonathan Brandmeier will air in mornings from 6-9am. David Kaplan will move from nights at 720 WGN to a 9am-1pm slot on 87.7. He will be joined until 12pm by Chicago Tribune sports columnist David Haugh. Former NFL Fullback Howard Griffith, a Chicago native and current analyst for the Big Ten Network and WGN Operations Manager/Fill-In Host Alex Quigley will host from 1 to 3pm. Harry Teinowitz, who had been hosting a show on the WGN.FM stream will reteam with his former 97.9 WLUP and 1000 WMVP co-host Spike Manton for afternoons from 3-7pm. Mark Carman, who had been co-hosting Kaplan’s WGN show will host from 7-10pm. NBC Sports Radio network programming will fill the late night hours.
No word yet if any of WGN’s play-by-play coverage will simulcast on the new station.
Update 2/14: Tribune confirms that it will take over the LMA of 87.7 from Venture Technologies Group at 1:02pm Monday until its September 2015 shutdown.
Robert Feder adds that Jonathan Brandmeier will host mornings on 87.7, but gives no further details regarding the format plans other than it will be programmed by Todd Manley, the Vice President of Creative Content for 720 WGN.
87.7 applied on 2/12 for WGWG-LP as its new call letters.
Original Report 2/13:With Alternative “Q87.7” WKQX-LP Chicago completing its shift back to 101.1 on Monday, February 17, the question becomes what is next for the 87.7 signal as Merlin Media’s LMA of the signal comes to a close.
While the frequency has a limited shelf life as all Low Power Television stations (which all 87.7 radio stations really are) must convert to all-digital by September 1, 2015, that still gives an operator a little over eighteen months to operate an FM station in the #3 market.
Jonathan Brandmeier, currently hosting mornings on Tribune’s streaming WGN.FM mentioned on his program today that he will be heard on FM again beginning on Tuesday. With 87.7 suddenly going to be available it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to put two and two together.
What isn’t a guarantee is whether WGN.FM will be making the move as is to 87.7. On January 31, eight potential domains were registered for the frequency: 877FMTheGame.com, 877TheGame.com, FM877.com, FM877TheGame.com, IListenToTheGame.com, TheGame877.com, TheGameChicago.com, and TheGameFM.com. The domains were registered by Mindy Semetis Kaplan, VP/Marketing at regional pizza chain Lou Malnati’s, and wife of longtime WGN host/sportscaster David Kaplan.
Why would 87.7 go Sports when there’s already CBS’ “670 The Score” WSCR and ESPN’s “ESPN 1000” WMVP in the market? WGN is the flagship for the Chicago Cubs, Chicago Blackhawks, and Northwest University play-by-play giving the station plenty of content out of the gate.
WGN.FM currently only programs live from 6am to 11am daily. 9am to 11am host Harry Teinowitz hosted afternoons on WMVP from 2001 until March 2013.
David Kaplan, who currently hosts 7-10pm nightly sports talk show on 720 WGN, was resigned to a new contract earlier this year. The Chicago Tribune reported at that time that his role may expand as WGN evolves. WGN President/GM James de Castro was also responsible for launching the Dan Patrick Show into syndication in 2007 before selling the show to DirecTV.
Just a lot of pieces that individually may fit into the puzzle, now its just a matter of seeing what the puzzle actually is.