When Bruce Wolf returns from vacation to WLS AM 890 Friday, it’ll be without morning show co-host Dan Proft. After that, whatever happens is up in the air.
Proft, 42, a Republican political commentator, consultant and onetime gubernatorial candidate, announced Tuesday that his time was up at the Cumulus Media news/talk station. He’s been off the air since early December, first on a Hawaiian cruise with listeners and then on what became an extended vacation.
Calling his tenure at the station “incredibly fun and rewarding,” Proft wrote on Facebook: “After nearly five years, I have decided to leave WLS at the end of the year to pursue other ventures and adventures in broadcasting, politics and business including but not limited to the Bears coaching vacancy. . . . I am humbled to have had a platform on the station with the most recognized, respected and enduring call letters in the Midwest.”
In response to Proft’s announcement, Wolf, 61, said in a statement: "I can't begin to tell you how much I learned by working with Dan. About broadcasting, about politics, about life. Dan's only regret, he says, is that he never got to meet Chet Chitchat. Mine is that I failed to notice his name on the GOP ballot for governor a few years ago. I promise you I will not make a mistake like that again."
If the end is also near for Wolf, neither he nor his WLS bosses will say so. Donna Baker, vice president and Chicago market manager of Cumulus Media, and Lisa Dollinger, corporate spokeswoman for Cumulus Media, did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday.
As reported here last week, Cumulus Media is close to hiring Big John Howell, morning personality at Salem Communications news/talk station WIND AM 560, for mornings at WLS. Howell chose not to renew his contract after eight years at WIND. It’s not clear what plans Cumulus Media has for Wolf, a veteran Chicago sportscaster and talk show host.
Wolf and Proft, who first teamed up at WLS on weekends in 2010, succeeded the late Don Wade and wife Roma as weekday morning co-hosts in 2012. In the latest Nielsen Audio survey, WLS ranked 17th in mornings with a 2.2 percent share and cumulative weekly audience of 193,000.
Here is the text of Proft’s Facebook post:
After nearly five years, I have decided to leave WLS at the end of the year to pursue other ventures and adventures in broadcasting, politics and business including but not limited to the Bears coaching vacancy. My time at WLS has been incredibly fun and rewarding. I am humbled to have had a platform on the station with the most recognized, respected and enduring call letters in the Midwest. It has been an honor to follow radio greats Don Wade & Roma in the morning drive slot.
I had the good fortune to be surrounded by supremely talented people at WLS from my zany, quick-witted, well-coiffured, '60s music savant and co-host Bruce Wolf to our show producers, engineers, sales staff, promotions folks, and program directors through the years. I owe particular debts of gratitude to Don Wade & Roma who opened the door for me and to Bruce Wolf, Michael Damsky, Drew Hayes, and Tracy Slutzkin from whom I learned so much about both on-air presentation and the business of talk radio.
I must also offer a thank you to all of the fascinating, accomplished guests we had the occasion to interview who greatly enhanced the entertainment quotient of our show.
Finally, I am eternally grateful to our loyal listeners, particularly those who followed us on our WLS journey from the weekends to the midday show to morning drive. The Amish Texter, Steve on 88, Tom from Schaumburg, Anna from Chicago, Ralph from the South Suburbs, Shaun from Elmwood Park (of course), even John from Mundelein and so many more: thank you for punctuating our show with your wit, wisdom, compliments and criticisms. Whether at our "Steak of the Union" events, on cruises, at political events, or just in the course of everyday life, it has been a treat to meet so many listeners who have been so generous with their support of our show. Thank you all very much.
I will always reflect fondly on my time on the Big 89. My only regret was never meeting Chet Chitchat in person.