Melissa McGurren, the pride of Portage, Indiana, who rose from traffic reporter to full-fledged co-host of Eric Ferguson’s top-rated morning show, is out after more than two decades at WTMX 101.9-FM.
Officials of the Hubbard Radio hot adult-contemporary station ended speculation today about McGurren's lengthy absence and announced a parting of the ways. She is expected to be paid through the end of the year, when her contract expires.
A statement released by the company alludes to a contract extension offer it says McGurren turned down, but it provided no other details.
"The Mix is sad to announce that after 22 years with the station, Melissa McGurren was offered a contract extension which much to our surprise she declined," the statement said.
Jeff England, vice president and market manager at Hubbard Radio Chicago, was quoted as saying: “Our plans for the future of ‘Eric in the Morning’ definitely included Melissa. We were disappointed by her decision not to renew her contract, but also know that this year has led all of us to assess our lives in different ways. When she informed me of her decision, she described her time at the station as ‘a privilege’ and that feeling is completely mutual. We wish her the best.”
McGurren and her agent, attorney Steve Mandell, declined requests for comment.
In a Facebook video posted earlier, McGurren told fans: "I’m really sorry that I haven’t been there. I really truly am. I want to just make sure that I wished everybody a happy belated Thanksgiving and I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas, and miss you all. Thanks, you guys. OK, love you all. Thank you for all those great messages. Thank you so much. Bye bye.”
Ferguson, who was not involved in the negotiations between Mandell and Hubbard, said: "I was surprised and disappointed when I heard the news, but I think it's important to be supportive when someone chooses to do something new in their life."
It all comes just as Ferguson is back from his latest surgery for spinal stenosis, a procedure involving spinal decompression and disc fusion.
“Eric in the Morning” is expected to continue with current contributors Violeta Podrumedic and Brian “Whip” Paruch and producer John “Swany” Swanson.
In many ways, McGurren's departure was a replay of the drama that unfolded in 2017 when Kathy Hart severed ties with the station after 21 years as Ferguson's co-host. She too was represented by Mandell.
The breakup came less than a year after the ubiquitous duo known as "Eric & Kathy" were inducted in the Radio Hall of Fame.
In the latest Nielsen Audio survey, The Mix ranked third overall in mornings with a 7.3 percent share and cumulative weekly audience of 390,600. It finished first among women between 35 and 64.
Tuesday’s comment of the day: Rita Buda: I can't wait to listen to Rick O'Dell's top 12 smooth jazz Christmas tunes. I love smooth jazz Christmas music. It's hard to choose, they all sound so great.