WBEZ to debut two-hour midday talk show this fall


WBEZ 91.5-FM will launch a new local talk show from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday as part of a revised midday lineup this fall at the Chicago Public Media news/talk station.

Host of the new show will be Jenn White, who’ll move from “The Morning Shift,” which she took over from Tony Sarabia in January. No title or start date have been announced.

“Worldview,” the long-running international affairs talk show airing from noon to 1 p.m., will be dropped. Host Jerome McDonnell will shift to reporting on energy and environmental issues for the station. “The BBC Newshour” will replace “The Morning Shift” from 9 to 10 a.m.

Jenn White

The moves are designed to boost WBEZ’s midday listenership, which typically lags behind mornings and afternoons in the ratings.

“Midday listening is becoming increasingly important as people check in on what’s happening in the world, particularly with the rise in streaming audio,” said Goli Sheikholeslami, CEO of Chicago Public Media. “We’re meeting this need by investing in new, indispensable programming that will drive the daily Chicago conversation during the key midday listening hours.”

The current production team of “The Morning Shift,” headed by senior producer Dan Tucker, will be assigned to the new show, with an additional two producers to be hired, according to Steve Edwards, vice president and chief content officer for WBEZ.

The new show will feature White interviewing local newsmakers, innovators and cultural leaders on issues related to Chicago, the region and beyond. It also will explore “Chicago’s diverse cultures, and its role as a place of tremendous dynamism, diversity, challenge and change in an ever-changing world,” according to the station’s announcement Thursday.

“Chicago is the third largest metro area in America and truly a global city,” Edwards said. “What happens in Chicago influences people around the globe – and vice versa. At a time in which we’re more connected than ever before, WBEZ’s new midday show will make those connections.”

White, a Detroit native and University of Michigan graduate, joined WBEZ in 2016 from Michigan Public Media, where she’d worked since 1999. In addition to anchoring “The Morning Shift,” White hosted the station’s critically acclaimed podcasts “Making Oprah” and “Making Obama,” among others.

Of her new show, White said: “Being live from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. means we can follow the day’s news cycle as it’s happening and unfolding, while bringing the essential context, analysis and conversation WBEZ is known for.”

Jerome McDonnell

McDonnell, a graduate of Northern Illinois University, began as a volunteer intern at WBEZ in 1984 and later produced a business program and a Saturday morning calendar show.

He shifted to covering global affairs as producer of “Midday with Sondra Gair.” Following Gair’s death in 1994, McDonnell stepped up as host of “Worldview.” He briefly doubled as the station's executive director of talk programming.

WBEZ will celebrate McDonnell and the 25-year history of “Worldview” in a series of special shows and events throughout the summer.