||This article needs additional citations for verification. (December 2011)|
|City of license||Chicago, Illinois|
|Broadcast area||Chicago market / Northern Illinois|
|Slogan||"The Voice of Chicago"|
|First air date||May 19, 1922 (WDAP)
March 29, 1924 (first Tribune/WGN)
June 1, 1924 (WDAP becomes WGN)
|Class||A (clear channel)|
|Callsign meaning||World's Greatest Newspaper|
|Former callsigns||WDAP (1922–1924)|
(WGN Continental Broadcasting Company, LLC)
|Sister stations||CLTV, WGN-TV, WGN America|
WGN (720 AM) is a radio station in Chicago, Illinois, USA. It is the only radio station owned by the Tribune Company, which also owns the flagship television station WGN 9, the Chicago Tribune newspaper and Chicago magazine locally. WGN's transmitter is located in Elk Grove Village, Illinois. The station has a news-talk format and is the flagship station of Chicago Cubs baseball, Chicago Blackhawks hockey, Northwestern University football and men's basketball, and was the longtime Chicago outlet for Paul Harvey until his death on February 28, 2009.
Since around 1990, WGN has been mainly a news and talk radio station. WGN broadcasts news, weather, traffic and sports every hour. Until the passing of Ron Santo in December 2010, he and Pat Hughes served as the play-by-play team for all games of the Chicago Cubs, and the broadcasts were known as the Pat and Ron Show.
WGN is a high-powered clear channel AM station (50,000 watts), which during nighttime hours is often audible over much of the USA, parts of Canada, and sometimes as far away as Australia, Europe and South America. The station also has a 24/7 Internet stream on its website, which carries the station's broadcast programming except for commercial breaks and Cubs games, when public service announcements, station promotions, host-read commercials and alternate programming, is played instead.
WGN is one of the rare news/talk radio stations in the country that broadcasts all local talk shows. It is the only all local talk station in Chicago, with WIND, WCPT, and WLS all airing at least one national talk show. The call letters WGN originally referred to the Tribune - "World's Greatest Newspaper" following the pattern of other stations such as WLS (World's Largest Store for Sears and WSM in Nashville for "We Shield Millions" - the slogan of the insurance company that owned the station.)
The predecessor to the current WGN was WDAP, which was started on May 19, 1922, by Thorne Donnelley and Elliott Jenkins. Starting in the Wrigley Building, they moved the station to the Drake Hotel in July.
On May 12, 1923, Zenith Radio Company began broadcasting with the callsign WJAZ from the Edgewater Beach Hotel. However, after this brief period, the Tribune switched its operations to WDAP, and the Zenith station became WEBH, eventually being deleted from the license rolls on November 30, 1928. Early programming was noted for its creativity and innovation. It included live music, political debates, comedy routines, and some of radio's first broadcasts of sporting events, including the Indianapolis 500 automobile race, and a live broadcast of the 1925 Scopes Trial from Dayton, Tennessee. In 1926, WGN broadcast Sam & Henry, a daily serial with comic elements created and performed by Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll. After a dispute with the station in 1927, Gosden and Correll took the program's concept and announcer Bill Hay across town to WMAQ and created the first syndicated radio show in history, Amos 'n' Andy.
WGN was a founding member of the Mutual Broadcasting System.
In November 1958, WGN became the first radio station in Chicago to broadcast helicopter traffic reports featuring Police Officer Leonard Baldy. Flying Officer Baldy was killed in a helicopter crash May 2, 1960 while on duty. Eleven years later, WGN suffered another helicopter-related tragedy. On October 10, 1971, Flying Officer Irv Hayden and his pilot were killed when their helicopter struck a utility pole in the Chicago suburb of Bellwood.
Over many decades, WGN was a "full service" radio station. The station played small amounts of music during mornings and afternoons, moderate amounts of music on weekends during the day, had midday and evening talk shows, and sports among other features. The station's music was easy listening/MOR-based until the 1970s, when the music was more of an adult contemporary-type sound. The music played at the station was phased out during the 1980s, and by 1990, the station's lineup mainly consisted of talk shows.
Some former well-known personalities on the station include longtime morning hosts Wally Phillips, Bob Collins, Spike O'Dell, Paul Harvey and Roy Leonard. Orion Samuelson has been the station's farm reporter since 1960. Late-night hosts over the years have included Franklyn MacCormack, Chicago Ed Schwartz, Don Vogel and the husband-and-wife team of Steve King and Johnnie Putman.
The Sousa Archives and Center for American Music at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign holds the WGN Radio Station Studio Orchestra Music Library and Records, 1925-1956, which consists of scripts, programs, production notes, correspondence, music library rental records, sheet music manuscripts, and music scores with annotations that document the WGN Studio Symphonic Orchestra from the 1925 to 1956.
Recent events 
|This section may be slanted towards recent events. (April 2009)|
In 2005, Tom Langmyer joined WGN as Vice President and General Manager.
In October 2008, after a ten year partnership with The Weather Channel to provide the station's weather forecasts, the station began to air forecasts prepared by Tom Skilling and other members of WGN-TV's weather staff.
WGN morning host, Spike O'Dell retired from radio, and WGN moved then midday host, John Williams to mornings. William's old spot, 1-4 p.m. was now vacant. WGN opted to leave that spot vacant for several months, while having other WGN hosts fill-in on a rotating basis, including weekend host Nick Digilio, and Bob Sirott, who formerly hosted "The Noon Show" on the same station, in addition to a weekend program that is pre-recorded with his wife, Marianne Murciano; he also was a prominent news anchor at NBC 5 and is now at WFLD.
In March, long-time Chicago radio host, Garry Meier was given an audition for the 1-4 p.m. slot. Meier hosted four shows, which is believed to have caused a surge of excitement for the station among younger people, who traditionally never listened to that station. Chicago media message boards exploded with traffic and posts, many excited over a possible permanent Meier presence on the Chicago talk station. After the four Meier auditions, Jerry Springer was given four days to "guest host" as well as Rita Cosby a few weeks later.
On April 2, WGN announced that Garry Meier would now be the permanent host of the 1-4 p.m. slot, weekdays. Meier's first official show was Friday, April 2, 2009. Meier's show airs each weekday when not pre-empted by Chicago Cubs broadcasts.
On May 22, 2009, WGN announced that the Kathy and Judy Show was being canceled at the end of that day's show. The final show was largely a retrospective of the 20 years that the show was on WGN radio. This follows shortly after the replacement of much of the station's weekend lineup.
On June 15, 2009, the station announced that Greg Jarrett would be joining the station on June 22, 2009 as its new morning-drive host, with John Williams being shifted to Kathy and Judy's old time slot. In June 2010, WGN announced the hiring of longtime Cincinnati-based host Mike McConnell from WLW; he took the late morning (8:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.) slot, shifting Williams back to his original midday time slot (now from 12:30 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.) starting on August 9, 2010.
Coinciding with the hire of Jarrett for mornings, WGN dropped their "News/Talk 720" identification and began identifying itself simply as "Chicago's WGN Radio 720." This new identity was implemented in all station promos, and used by all on air talent. on Friday, August 13, 2010 the station changed its identification to "News 720 WGN." In November, after the firing of controversial Program Director Kevin Metheny, station VP/GM Langmyer instructed staff to identify the station as "720 WGN." Weekend hosts Jerry Agar and the "News Junkie" Sean Wasson left the station, in exchange for more general and less controversial talk.
WGN Radio announced December 2, 2011, that Jonathon Brandmeier was named the new morning man at WGN Radio. Starting Friday, December 9, Brandmeier was heard weekedays from 5:30 - 9:00 a.m.
With Brandmeier's addition to the WGN Radio weekday lineup, the morning drive timeslot shiftedto 5:30-9 a.m., followed by Mike McConnell from 9 a.m.-12 p.m., John Williams from 12-3 p.m., and Garry Meier from 3-7 p.m. News anchor Steve Bertrand moved to mornings with Brandmeier and Jim Gudas shifted to middays/afternoons. Former morning show host Greg Jarrett was released from the station. For overnights, Steve King and Johnnie Putman left the station on Friday, December 9 after a week-long series of live "Farewell Celebration" shows. Bill Leff took over overnight duties on WGN Radio from midnight to 5:30 a.m. on Monday, December 12. 2011.
John Williams has announced that he will leave the station when his contract expires December 31, 2012, so that he can concentrate exclusively on WCCO (AM) in Minneapolis instead of splitting time between stations.[dated info] John's last show aired December 21, 2012.
On December 17, 2012, WGN Radio executives announced that its long-running program "Extension 720", and its host of the past 39 years, Dr. Milton J. Rosenberg, will cease to exist with the station after the last program airs on December 20, 2012.
- "WGN Radio Timeline: 1920s-1930s". wgngold.com. Chicago: WGN Radio. 2008-04-30. Retrieved 2008-10-29.
- A look at the WGN transmitter and site-2004
- "Ole's DX-blog, WGN CHICAGO, IL 720 VERIFICATION".
- White, Thomas H. (2008-01-01). "Three-Letter Roll Call". United States Early Radio History. Cary, North Carolina. Retrieved 2008-10-29.
- WLS Radio-traffic reporter Leonard Baldy
- Officer Down Memorial-Patrolman Leonard F. Baldy
- WGN Radio-Leonard Baldy, trafficopter reporter
- Chicago Police Department-Retired Stars-Officer Irving Hayden-page 3
- Officer Down Memorial-Patrolman Irving F. Hayden
- WGN Radio-Irv Hayden, trafficopter reporter
- Rosenthal, Phil (2008-04-30). "Blackhawks skating over to WGN-AM". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2008-10-29.
- "WGN Radio to Partner with WGN-TV to Deliver Top Local Weather Reporting to Listeners". WGN Radio. 2008-10-10.
- "WGN Radio Announces New Morning Line-up". WGN Radio. wgnradio.com. June 15, 2009.
- "Quitting time: Two jobs are one too many for WGN’s Williams". TimeOut Chicago. timeoutchicago.com. October 23, 2012.
- WGN Radio — official website
- WGN Radio schedule
- wgngold.com: The History of Chicago's WGN Radio 720 — history and archive site owned by the radio station
- Query the FCC's AM station database for WGN
- Radio-Locator Information on WGN
- Query Arbitron's AM station database for WGN