More On WGN.FM

WGN WGN.FM WGN-FM Jonathan Brandmeier Accuradio Kurt Hanson Freeform Media Update 9/12: WGN.FM will debut on Friday, September 13 with the Jonathan Brandmeier show running from 6 to 9am Central. Brandmeier will be joined by longtime sidekick Buzz Kilman and sportscaster Harry Teinowitz.

Original Report 8/22: On Tuesday, Tribune Company’s 720 WGN Chicago announced plans to move morning host Jonathan Brandmeier to an FM station without an FM signal.

A splash page for the site is now live at WGN.FM with a video promoting Brandmeier and describing the FM as standing for “Freeform Media”. The domain is owned by Kurt Hanson’s AccuRadio LLC, which operates the Accuradio streaming network. A number of longtime Chicago based radio executives work for the company including COO John Gehron and VP/Sales Michael Damsky.

The new site spotlights the new WGN branding campaign revealed today by Robert Feder.

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  1. K.M. Richards says

    WGN did briefly own a FM station, Classical (and other “fine arts”)-formatted WFMT, in 1969 and 1970. They purchased it when the original owner’s health failed and then, in the face of listener opposition to the ownership transfer, spun it off to the non-profit that operated the PBS station (WTTW). As a result, WFMT still programs the same format, and still commercially, as it did 60+ years ago when it first went on the air (December 1951).

    One presumes that “WGN.FM” won’t have the same problem with listener groups as WFMT did back in 1969.

    1. Nathan Obral says

      The other reason – and the bigger reason – why Tribune gave up WFMT was because of ownership restrictions that the FCC was placing on newspaper groups that owned TV and radio stations in the same market. The Washington Post had the same problem, first donating WTOP-FM to Howard University (now WHUR), and then ultimately spinning off WTOP and trading WTOP-TV to a forerunner of Gannett.

      Tribune actually attained a waiver from the FCC that enabled them to keep WGN and WGN-TV, but that has also kept them from adding to their radio portfolio, leaving WGN as a standalone AM.

      If they are going to even try to purchase WLUP and WIQI, that waiver needs to be removed. Spinning off their newspaper division into a separate entity will help in that direction.

  2. K.M. Richards says

    Nathan, I did a search of old Broadcasting magazines around the time WFMT was acquired by Tribune and then donated to WTTW and found no references to any kind of waiver.

    I don’t believe cross-ownership restrictions were in place as early as 1969, as I think of it.

    Would you mind citing your source for the statement you made about Tribune getting a waiver at that time?

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