Christian radio hosts switching jobs

Mark Elfstrand

Mark Elfstrand

Two prominent Christian radio talk hosts are trading places on competing Chicago stations.

Mark Elfstrand, who hosted mornings for nearly 15 years at Moody Radio WMBI FM 90.1 until he was forced out last November, is joining Salem Communications WYLL AM 1160. Starting May 20, he’ll be on from 4 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

“I couldn’t imagine a better host for afternoons on AM 1160,” Jeff Reisman, general manager of WYLL, said in a statement Wednesday. “Mark is a wonderful man of God who is knowledgeable, personable and connects with an audience. This is an exciting addition to the station.”

Karl Clauson

Karl Clauson

The man Elfstrand will succeed is Karl Clauson, who’s on his way to WMBI, where he will succeed Elfstrand as morning host. Since Elfstrand signed off, WMBI has been relying on interim personalities, including Cisco Cotto, Steve Hiller, Brian Dahlen, Jon Gauger and Roy Patterson. Elfstrand reportedly had been in talks with WYLL since the start of the year.

Clauson, whose last day on WYLL after more than three years will be Friday, is expected to join WMBI in July with co-host June Felix, who produces and hosts “Circle of Friends Radio” for Moody Radio WGNB in Zeeland, Michigan.

Although WMBI announced the hirings internally last week, Collin Lambert, vice president of Moody Radio, would not confirm the Clauson and Felix moves. “We are still working through lots of details,” Lambert told me. “I cannot confirm anything at this point.”

A 35-year radio veteran who came to Chicago by way of Sacramento, Dallas and Pittsburgh, Elfstrand was philosophical when Moody Radio severed its ties just before Thanksgiving. On his blog he wrote: “Radio is not who I am. My identity is not wrapped up in being a radio personality. . . . Our work should never define us as human beings. God created in each of us something much greater. The Creator of all things has made every human being in His image. He doesn’t stamp us with a job title. He gives us His divine imprint.”

But on Wednesday, Elfstrand seemed enthusiastic about his comeback. “A love for live radio runs through my veins!” he said in a statement. “AM 1160 is giving me a wonderful opportunity to connect once again with thousands of Chicago radio friends, so let's roll!"

In the latest Nielsen Audio survey, WMBI ranks 28th overall with a 1.1 percent share and cumulative weekly audience of 332,200. WYLL does not register in the ratings among the top 60 stations in the market.