WGN’s late-nights to start earlier

Scott Miller and Pete McMurray

Scott Miller (left) and Pete McMurray

You gotta love Pete McMurray. And starting Monday, there’ll be an hour more to love him each night on WGN AM 720.

The veteran Chicago radio personality, who’s been hosting from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. weeknights since September, will now hit the air at 10 p.m. — trimming one hour from David Kaplan’s sports show on the Tribune Broadcasting news/talk station.

“I'll work eight days a week for these guys,” McMurray told me. “I love them, love WGN Radio, and it's without a doubt the most fun I've ever had doing radio. I believe in [general manager] Jimmy deCastro. If he wants me to scrub toilets? No problem. I'll grab my bucket. Just tell me where to go!"

Todd Manley, vice president of creative content at WGN, cited McMurray’s ratings performance in part for the expansion of his show. “Pete has become our all-purpose star in a variety of fill-in roles,” Manley said. “I think he gets what we’re trying to do very well, especially in providing lots of video content. Between Pete and [producer] Scott Miller, they do an amazing job of booking great guests and being about the city.”

McMurray, who got his start at WWCT in his native Peoria, has enjoyed a high profile in Chicago ever since he came to the old WCKG in 1998. His 16-year run here has included two stints on WCKG, two on WLUP FM 97.9, two on WIQI/WKQX FM 101.1, and an ongoing role as co-host of the NBC 5 magazine show “24/7: City Secrets.”

The earlier start for the late-night show coincides with a new multiyear deal for Kaplan, who turned down an offer to jump to CBS Radio sports/talk WSCR AM 670. In renewing with WGN, where he’s worked since 1995, Kaplan is expected to figure prominently into what deCastro called “our multidimensional future.” His show will air from 7 to 10 p.m.

David Plier

David Plier

Manley also confirmed the promotion of fill-in host David Plier to permanent Saturday overnight personality, effective immediately. He’s officially been assigned to host from 2 to 5 a.m. Sundays — following Amy Guth’s “RedEye Remix” from midnight to 2 a.m.

Plier, who’s been filling in at WGN since 2012, is CEO of Retail First Corp., a northwest suburban-based advertising, marketing and retail environment company. He’s also vice president and a longtime board member of the Museum of Broadcast Communications.

“Needless to say, I am honored to be a small part of this legendary station and tremendously excited to permanently have a weekly show,” Plier said.