Robservations: Alabama goes solo on Big 95.5 mornings

Amber “Alabama” Cole

Robservations on the media beat:

Big 95.5

The long-anticipated shakeup of iHeartMedia Chicago’s country music station Tuesday didn’t end with the exit of Steve Stewart as program director and midday host. Also out after three years at WEBG 95.5 FM is the morning team of Mason Schreader and Zach “Remy” Hoesly. The lone holdover is Amber “Alabama” Cole, who’ll now host mornings solo. The native of Pinson, Alabama, who joined Big 95.5 as afternoon personality in 2015, had been co-hosting mornings with Mason & Remy since 2016. Incoming as program director and midday host is Lance Houston via iHeartMedia in Boston. From Chicago, Houston will continue to program WBWL in Boston as well. Underperforming ratings were cited for the shakeup. In the latest Nielsen Audio survey, Big 95.5 ranked 25th with a 1.7 percent audience share. It fared no better in the 25-to-54 revenue-generating demo.

Studs Terkel

Starting today, nominations are being received for the 2018 Studs Terkel Awards. Presented since 1994 by the nonprofit Public Narrative (and its predecessor Community Media Workshop), the awards honor excellence in coverage of Chicago’s diverse communities. They’re named for the late Chicago author and broadcaster who was the guiding spirit of the organization since its founding in 1989. Better late than never, the event traditionally held in spring will move to fall. “We are a small nonprofit with a lot of work and not a wealth of resources,” Public Narrative president Susy Schultz said of the time shift. “This will allow us to breathe a bit.” Winners will be honored September 20. (Here is the link for information.)

101.9 The Mix

Speaking of awards, the lone Chicago winner among 10 recipients of the 2018 Crystal Radio Awards Tuesday was WTMX 101.9 FM, the Hubbard Radio hot adult-contemporary station. Presented by the National Association of Broadcasters, the citations recognize stations for “outstanding year-round commitment to community service.” The Mix and the other honorees were announced at the NAB’s We Are Broadcasters Celebration in Las Vegas.

Terri Hemmert

On the eve of her 70th birthday (April 28), the incomparable Terri Hemmert shines as brightly as ever as midday star on WXRT 93.1 FM, the Entercom adult album alternative station. And the Radio Hall of Famer is as busy as ever, too: Hemmert’s latest project is narrating “The History of Rock and Soul, Part 2,” a series of five performances by the vocal ensemble Chicago a cappella. It’s a sequel to a series Hemmert hosted in 2016, based on her Columbia College class of the same name. The premiere is Friday in Oak Park, followed by performances in Evanston, Naperville, Hyde Park and Lincoln Park. (Here is the link for information.)


The recent sale of two Chicago radio stations to religious broadcasters brings new sets of new call letters to the market. Tom Taylor Now reports the FCC has approved rechristening WLUP 97.9 FM as WCKL for “Chicago’s K-Love,” owned by Educational Media Foundation. It also approved renaming south suburban WCPQ 99.9 FM as WYHI for Bible Broadcasting Network’s newest Christian ministry station.

The Loop

The Loop may be gone from Chicago’s airwaves, but its legacy is hardly forgotten. The latest tribute comes from WONC 89.1 FM, the radio station of North Central College in Naperville. Starting at 4 p.m. Saturday, host Brandon Herman will welcome veterans of The Loop to reminisce. Herman’s guests will include Chet Coppock, Terry Gibson, Rick Kaempfer, John "Byrd" Kempf, John Records Landecker, Kevin Matthews, Jimmy McInerney, Mitch Michaels and Wendy Snyder.

Tuesday’s comment of the day: Dave Plier: Love Dave Hoekstra and his love for all things cool and all things Chicago!