WLS AM 890 has hired the husband-and-wife team of Bob Sirott and Marianne Murciano to replace Jonathon Brandmeier as midday hosts on the Cumulus Media news/talk station.
Starting January 2, Sirott and Murciano will be heard from 10 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday as part of a revamped lineup that includes revised time slots for Big John Howell and Ray Stevens in mornings, Rush Limbaugh in middays, Steve Dahl in afternoons, and Mark Levin at night.
Peter Bowen, vice president and Chicago market manager of Cumulus Media, announced the agreement with Sirott and Murciano Monday. Terms of the deal, negotiated by agent Steve Mandell, were not disclosed.
For Sirott, the move marks a return to the station where he first rose to stardom in 1973 as a 23-year-old Top 40 disc jockey on the Big 89. He segued to television in 1980. “Few people know my original WLS contract was a really good one,” Sirott joked. “They gave me a 37-year vacation.”
Since February, Sirott and Murciano have been filling in on WLS from time to time, including election night. The couple previously hosted middays on Tribune Broadcasting news/talk WGN AM 720 from 2013 to 2015 and co-anchored “Fox Thing in the Morning” on Fox-owned WFLD-Channel 32 from 1994 to 2000.
“Bob Sirott and Marianne Murciano are deeply rooted in Chicago and are well known to the community,” Bowen said in a statement. “With their addition, WLS is more local and more relevant to Chicago listeners and advertisers.”
The restoration of local programming follows the abortive two-year run of “The Jonathon Brandmeier Show,” which WLS aired from 9 to 11 a.m. weekdays. Though based in Chicago, the show was geared to a national audience and syndicated by Westwood One Radio Network until its cancellation last week.
The new lineup on WLS also reflects the cancellation of Michael Savage’s syndicated talk show, which has been airing from 9 p.m. to midnight. According to the new schedule, as of January 2, the morning show hosted by Howell and Stevens will air one hour later — from 6 to 10 a.m. With Sirott and Murciano on from 10 a.m. to noon, Limbaugh's syndicated show will air on tape delay from noon to 3 p.m., and Dahl’s show will air one hour later — from 3 to 7 p.m.
Dahl said he was pleased by the later hours for his show.
“For the last two years, I have been heading home in 6 p.m. rush-hour traffic, and I’ve felt like I was leaving the field in the middle of the game,” he said. “Now we can compete head to head against the other shows in the 3 to 7 p.m. afternoon-drive slot — the way the radio gods intended it.”
Levin’s syndicated show will move back to 9 p.m. to midnight. WLS has not announced plans for the 5 a.m. hour or the two-hour block from 7 to 9 p.m. on nights when it’s not airing Chicago Bulls basketball or Chicago White Sox baseball.
The latest Nielsen Audio survey shows WLS tied for 20th place with a 2.2 percent share and cumulative weekly audience of 452,400.