Declining revenues and intense competition from a formidable new challenger have claimed the program director of CBS Radio country WUSN FM 99.5.
Jeff Kapugi was cut Tuesday after six years with CBS Radio, including the last five as program director of US99.
Tim Pohlman, senior vice president and market manager of CBS Radio Chicago, announced Kapugi’s departure in a memo to staff but declined further comment. “Tim will name a new program director for US99 once a search has been completed,” a company spokeswoman said.
While he worked out his contract at US99, Kapugi essentially ceded control of programming earlier this year when Todd Cavanah was promoted to vice president of programming for CBS Radio Chicago. In August it was Cavanah who replaced the longtime morning team of Lisa Dent and Ramblin’ Ray Stevens with Doug Stylz and Justin Roman, and rebranded the station as “Chicago’s Hottest Country.”
Once a cash cow for the Chicago station group, US99 has been under siege since iHeartMedia launched a rival country format on WEBG FM 95.5 — marketed as “Big 95.5 Chicago’s New Country” — in January 2015.
In the latest Nielsen Audio survey, US99 tied for 20th place with 2.2 percent share and cumulative weekly audience of 1,080,400. Among listeners between 25 and 54, US99 ranked 23rd with a 2.2 share, while Big 95.5 tied for 18th with a 2.5 share. In 2015 (the most recent figures available) US99's revenue declined 19.9 percent to $16.9 million.
Kapugi, a Chicago native and graduate of Bogan High School and Columbia College, joined US99 in December 2011 after one year at KEZK and KYKY, CBS Radio stations in St. Louis. He previously worked for the former Tribune Interactive and Clear Channel Radio.
“I am extremely proud of my six years with CBS Radio,” Kapugi said Tuesday. “The last five at US99 and the opportunity to program a radio station in my home town were magical. I am proud of what we accomplished as a station and an 11-station country enterprise as VP/Programming.
“I cherish in the fact that I was able to make some lifelong friends along the way, and I look forward to writing the next chapter in the book of Jeff & Laurie’s Excellent Adventures.”