Jun 7, 2024 - Business

WLS fires Cochran, cuts more local programming

Man speaks at a podium

Steve Cochran speaks on stage during the "Out of the Darkness Chicagoland Walk" at Montrose Harbor in 2022. Photo: Barry Brecheisen/Getty Images for American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

In a stunning move, WLS-AM radio abruptly canceled "The Steve Cochran Show," "The Closing Bell" and "PM Chicago," on Friday morning.

Why it matters: The changes will cut some local programming and replace it with more syndicated conservative talk shows during the election season.

Driving the news: Steve Cochran will be replaced by another local host, Ramblin' Ray Stevens, according to an internal email obtained by Axios.

  • The end of Cochran's WLS show and other local afternoon program cuts will cost jobs, including veteran Chicago radio personalities Andrea Darlas and Jane Clauss.
  • Darlas will continue her weekend show and podcast with the station.

The big picture: Stevens is widely considered more conservative than Cochran.

  • "The Big 89 is leaning into the right side of talk with Matt Walsh and Michael Knowles replacing The Closing Bell and PM Chicago," WLS program director Stephanie Tichenor wrote in Friday's email.
  • The station, owned by Cumulus Media, already airs syndicated conservative shows hosted by Ben Shapiro and Mark Levin.
  • WLS was the Chicago home of the late Rush Limbaugh.

Context: Cochran has been a mainstay in Chicago radio for decades, with prior highly-rated morning and afternoon shows at WGN Radio.

The intrigue: Last year, the station also parted ways with Big John Howell, who said he was dismissed because the station had plans to become the most conservative talk radio station in the country.

Zoom out: The cuts are part of a cost-cutting trend in the local radio market.

  • Both WBEZ and WBBM have recently┬álaid off staff and cut back on local programming.

By the numbers: In last month's radio ratings, WLS had a 0.9 rating, good for 27th place in the market.

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