Leaving WIND, Big John Howell may join WLS

Big John Howell

Big John Howell

Chicago radio veteran Big John Howell is calling it quits after eight years as morning personality at WIND AM 560. But he probably won’t be off the air for long.

Sources said Howell turned down a renewal offer from the Salem Communications news/talk station, where his contract expires December 31. His last show of the year aired Tuesday, although he may return for a week or two after January 5 while his bosses decide on a replacement.

Howell declined to comment, but sources said he’s close to accepting an offer from Cumulus Media to host mornings on news/talk WLS AM 890. He’s also said to be in talks with at least one other station in Chicago.

Howell, 54, signed on at WIND in 2006 after 17 years at CBS Radio country WUSN FM 99.5, where he first hosted afternoons and then moved to mornings. Before joining US 99.5 in 1989, Howell co-hosted a morning talk show for 18 months with Stephanie Miller on former album rocker WCKG. A native of Holland Michigan, Howell began his radio career in 1984 on WZND in Zeeland, Michigan, later moving to WLAV, WJFM and WGRD in Grand Rapids.

If Howell does join WLS AM, it’s not clear what will happen to Bruce Wolf and Dan Proft, who succeeded the late Don Wade and wife Roma as morning co-hosts in 2012. Cumulus Media recently replaced the WLS afternoon duo of Roe Conn and Richard Roeper with broadcast icon Steve Dahl. Both Howell and Dahl are represented by attorney Steve Mandell.

Amy Jacobson, who’s been co-hosting mornings with Howell since 2010, is likely to remain at WIND, sources said.

In the latest Nielsen Audio survey, WIND tied for 28th in mornings with a 1.1 percent share and cumulative weekly audience of 92,400. WLS AM ranked 17th in mornings with a 2.2 share and 193,000 cume.