WGN hires Roe Conn to host afternoons

Roe Conn

Roe Conn

Not rumor, but fact: Roe Conn, the veteran Chicago broadcaster whose 25-year run on WLS AM 890 ended last October, is about to sign on as afternoon personality at WGN AM 720, sources said.

The Tribune Media news/talk station is expected to announce this week that Conn will replace Bill Leff and Wendy Snyder from 3 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. Leff and Snyder have held the afternoon shift since they succeeded Garry Meier last May.

If all goes as planned, Leff and Snyder will return to the late-morning midday slot they previously occupied, and John Williams will move to weekends, according to WGN insiders.

Todd Manley, vice president of content and programming at WGN, declined to comment.

Conn, 50, turned up as a guest on Steve Cochran’s morning show Monday, but no mention was made of his impending employment at the station. Conn’s agreement was negotiated by his longtime agent, George Hiltzik of New York-based N.S. Bienstock Inc.

As far back as August 2013, Conn was identified here on the “wish list” of Jimmy deCastro, president and general manager of WGN. But Conn was not available while he was under contract to Cumulus Media, parent company of WLS. That deal expired December 31.

Conn continues as a regular contributor to “Windy City Live,” the 11 a.m. weekday talk show on ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7. He recently announced his engagement to Deanna Beise, but no date has been set for the wedding.

With the loss of Chicago Cubs baseball broadcasts to CBS Radio all-news WBBM AM 780, WGN bosses are looking to attract potentially displaced news listeners by beefing up the station’s news content, particularly during afternoon drive. When it comes to handling breaking news on radio, Conn is among the most adept practitioners in the business.

In the latest Nielsen Audio survey, WGN ranked 20th in afternoons with a 2.1 percent share and cumulative weekly audience of 255,700. Among listeners between 25 and 54, WGN tied with WLS in afternoons for 28th place with a 0.9 share and weekly cume of 81,500.