It’s been two years since the husband-and-wife team of Bob Sirott and Marianne Murciano were cut from WLS 890-AM as the Cumulus Media station doubled down on its conservative talk format.
The jury may still be out on whether WLS made the right move in the purge that also cost the jobs of Steve Dahl and Ramblin’ Ray Stevens among other local radio veterans. But it looks like the time is right for Sirott to return to Chicago broadcasting full time.
Multiple sources confirmed that Sirott’s agent, Steve Mandell, is in serious talks with WGN 720-AM, the Nexstar Media news/talk station, and Marquee Sports Network, the future TV home of the Chicago Cubs.
Nothing is official yet, but the interest in Sirott is good news for fans of the Chicago treasure, who's been a hometown radio star since he began as a Top 40 disc jockey in the '70s. An equally legendary run as a TV news anchor and reporter here earned him induction in the Silver Circle of the Chicago/Midwest chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in 2015.
Sean Compton, the Nexstar executive vice president overseeing WGN, is said to be a big booster of Sirott, although it’s not clear what role the company has in mind for him. Under the Tribune Broadcasting regime of Jimmy deCastro, Sirott co-hosted middays with his wife on WGN from 2013 to 2015.
WGN morning host Steve Cochran and afternoon host Roe Conn are under contract through next year, but it hasn’t gone unnoticed that Compton and WGN's director of news and operations, Mary Sandberg Boyle, have brought in Sirott several times to fill in for the two drive-time personalities. As recently as last Thursday and Friday, Sirott subbed for Cochran.
"It was fun," Sirott said of the latest fill-in gig. "It's like a rent-a-car. You can drive it into the ground and then happily return it to the original owner."
It’s also not known how Marquee Sports Network bosses Michael McCarthy and Michael Santini are thinking of using Sirott, whose equity in the market and lifelong affinity for the Cubs would make him ideal in any number of roles. If all goes as planned, the regional cable venture operated by Sinclair Broadcast Group and the Cubs will launch in February.
Since the setback at WLS in December 2017, Sirott and Murciano have kept up their social media profile through a weeknight series of Facebook Livecast videos and frequent posts on other platforms. In addition they co-hosted a documentary on former Apollo astronaut James Lovell for Window to the World Communications WTTW-Channel 11 and produced a pilot for a weekly half-hour series titled “Bob and Marianne’s Day Off.”
Friday's comment of the day: Terrance Fuller: End of an era, for sure. The passing of Doug Banks and now the retirement of Tom Joyner. Those guys were definitely the best of the best of urban broadcasters.