WLS drops Roe & Roeper sports hour

Roe Conn, Richard Roeper and Lou Canellis

Roe Conn, Richard Roeper and Lou Canellis

It took a year for WLS AM 890 bosses to figure out what most listeners realized from Day One: A full hour of sports talk at 5 p.m. each day was killing Roe Conn and Richard Roeper’s afternoon show.

Faced with disastrous ratings, the Cumulus Media news/talk station is dropping “The 89 WLS Sports Pregame Show,” the somnambulant segment that featured Fox 32 sports anchor Lou Canellis and interviews with sports figures. Its final airing will be Wednesday.

In a city with two full-time sports/talk radio stations and numerous other options, the futility of Conn and Roeper’s effort finally dawned on WLS management. The move comes 10 weeks after the appointment of Peter Bolger as operations manager and program director.

Effective Thursday, the 5 p.m. hour of “The Roe & Roeper Show” will revert to regular talk programming (including the return of their “Top Five at 5” feature).

Launched on the eve of last year’s Super Bowl and doomed from the start, the sports hour was conceived by Drew Hayes in his final weeks as operations director and continued under his protege, former program director Tracy Slutzkin.

Ratings showed listeners tuned out in droves, while projected revenue never materialized. The latest Nielsen Audio survey shows WLS tied for 26th place in afternoons with a 1.4 percent share and a cumulative weekly audience of 174,600. Among listeners between 25 and 54, the station ranks 28th in afternoons with a 1.2 share.

Total revenue for the station fell 12 percent to $13 million in 2013, according to Miller, Kaplan, Arase & Co.