Walt Flakus, well-known to Chicago rock radio listeners for his years at The Loop and Cumulus Media alternative rock WKQX 101.1-FM, has returned to host middays on WCHI 95.5-FM, iHeartMedia’s new rock station.
Flakus, a Chicago native who most recently worked at KNDD in Seattle, will be heard from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays as part of the new talent lineup unveiled today at Rock 95.5.
"Rock 95.5 is a radio station that’s right in my wheelhouse," said Flakus, who'll double as assistant program director under James Howard. "I couldn’t be more excited to come home to Chicago and bring the rock."
As previously reported, Angi Taylor shifted from morning co-host on iHeartMedia Top 40 WKSC 103.5-FM to morning host on Rock 95.5. Joining Taylor's show as executive producer and on-air contributor is Abe Kanan, who most recently was a content creator and contributor to Brian Hadad’s morning show on 101.1 WKQX.
Hosting afternoons from 3 to 7 p.m. is Josh Klinger, former evening host at WWDC in Washington, D.C. Hosting evenings from 7 p.m. to midnight is Maria Palmer, former evening host at WEND in Charlotte, North Carolina.
“We have assembled a dream team of talent whose passion for rock and Chicago will bring the ideal companionship for our audience,” said Howard, regional senior vice president of programming for iHeartMedia Chicago.
Since iHeartMedia dropped country music on the former WEBG and switched to rock on September 3, the station had been airing without personalities.
It’s notable that all four major dayparts — mornings, middays, afternoons and evenings — will be live and local. It’s also notable that two of the four shifts — mornings and evenings — are hosted by women, suggesting that iHeartMedia hopes to expand the format’s appeal to a wider demographic range.
“I am thrilled with the amazing on-air team we have been able to secure for Rock 95.5,” Matt Scarano, president of iHeartMedia Chicago, said in a statement. “Top-tier talent will always win in the ratings, connect with our listeners and obtain great results for advertisers.”
In its final month as a country music station, the former Big 95.5 ranked 23rd overall with a 1.8 percent share and a cumulative weekly audience of 573,600, according to the most recent Nielsen Audio survey.