Jacobson joins WGN at 'perfect time'

Walter Jacobson

Walter Jacobson

Chicago broadcasting icon Walter Jacobson is bringing his signature “Perspective” commentaries and his unique political insight to WGN AM 720.

Starting next month, his weekly, 90-second commentaries will air Thursdays during Bob Sirott and Marianne Murciano’s midday show and repeat weekends during “The Sunday Spin: Politics with Rick Pearson.” The celebrated anchorman also will appear as a contributor to various shows on the Tribune Broadcasting news/talk station.

“Having been listening to WGN Radio since the day I became a reporter, and believing it's the best in the business, I'm thrilled to be joining the team,” Jacobson, 76, told me Monday. “For me, it's a perfect fit at a perfect time. The station's coming back, and 2014 is going to be an intriguing and exciting year in Chicago's wild and wooly politics.”

Jacobson’s new role coincides with the shift of his commercial endorsements for Hartland Mortgage Centers to WGN. From September through December of last year, his commercials for the company’s reverse mortgages and his weekly commentaries aired on Cumulus Media news/talk WLS AM 890.

The Hartland spots, which already have begun airing on WGN, promote a program allowing people 62 and older to tap their home equity without making payments.

At the time he signed the endorsement deal, Jacobson acknowledged he was doing it for the money and to keep himself busy. He said he had been unable to land a regular news job after his last gig — co-anchoring the 6 p.m. weekday news with Bill Kurtis and delivering 10 p.m. commentaries for CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2 — ended in February 2013.

WGN, which has been remaking itself by adding a cavalcade of familiar Chicago names and voices, is welcoming the legendary newsman with open arms.

“We’re proud to have Walter’s ‘Perspective’ as a regular weekly feature and also have him make periodic appearances as an analyst on all the shows," said Todd Manley, vice president of creative content at WGN. “When you talk about us trying to be a ‘fence post for conversation,’ this is a guy that walks the streets of his hometown and goes, ‘Wait a minute, what’s not right about this?’ That’s a great fire to keep burning. It makes perfect sense.”

Jacobson’s first commentary for WGN will air on Feb. 6.