Years of underperforming ratings and a revolving door of talent at Chicago’s Top 40 WBBM 96.3-FM have led parent company Audacy to import a new morning show straight from its Top 40 station in Phoenix.
Four personalities from Phoenix's KALV — known collectively as “The Morning Mess” — are moving to Chicago to broadcast live from B96, Audacy announced Wednesday. They'll start on the air the week of April 4.
The show will air here from 5:30 to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday and continue to be heard in Phoenix as well.
Leader of the ensemble cast is Joey Rodriguez, a Philadelphia native of Puerto Rican descent who grew up in Los Angeles. Known to fans as “Joey Boy” and “Nachoo,” he first began pursuing his radio ambitions at age 15 and was hosting nights at Power 106 in L.A. by his early 20s.
His team also features Jeana Shepard (described as a young mother of two who's "looking for any excuse to get out of the house"), Aneesh Ratan ("an avid advocate for the LGBTQ+ community and top-of-the-line twerker"), and Karla Hernandez ("a young and fun Mexican American beauty queen who enjoys giving listeners a sneak peek into her dating, partying and personal life").
“We are all beyond excited for this opportunity – mornings at the iconic B96,” said Rodriguez, who's been fronting the show since 2013. “‘The Morning Mess’ is ready to embrace Chicago and become part of its vibrant and diverse culture. Thanks to everyone at Audacy for the incredible support.”
Rachel Williamson, regional president and market manager of Audacy Chicago, described them as "a fun, energetic and close team who embrace their diverse cultures and lifestyles to bring lively and relatable entertainment to listeners every morning.”
B96's latest morning host, Gabe Ramirez, is expected to stay on with Audacy Chicago in a new role to be announced. Ramirez joined B96 in 2008 as an intern for the station's last big morning stars — Ed Volkman and Joe "Bohannan" Colborn — and moved up to morning show producer and co-host.
As lead host since 2019, Ramirez earned praise as "likable, topical, funny and relatable" from his mentor Volkman.
"After many years of the same morning show choices for contemporary hit music fans, we believe Chicagoans will be excited to have a new, fresh option to wake up with and to energize their mornings,” Greg Solk, vice president of programming and operations for Audacy Chicago, said in a statement.
In the latest Nielsen Audio survey B96 tied for 19th in mornings with a 1.9 percent share and cumulative weekly audience of 324,000.
For years it has trailed iHeartMedia Top 40 WKSC 103.5-FM, which current ranks ninth in mornings with a 3.6 share and 373,600 weekly cume for "The Fred Show," led by Christopher "Fred" Frederick.
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