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Jonathan Brandmeier coming to WGN-AM mornings, Jarrett out

Radio host JonathBrandmeier

Radio host Jonathon Brandmeier

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Updated: January 4, 2012 8:06AM

Johnny B. rides again.

On Friday WGN-AM (720) heralded the coming of Chicago radio veteran Jonathon Brandmeier as its new morning man. He’ll broadcast from 5:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. starting Dec. 9.

In assuming the post, Brandmeier replaces personality Greg Jarrett, who is off the air immediately.

Producer Jim Wiser — who had been with Jarrett since the summer of 2009, Spike O’Dell before that and was Brandmeier’s former foil at WLUP-AM/FM (1000/97.9) in the ‘80s and early ‘90s — is out as well.

Asked if Jarrett’s latest Arbitron ratings, which came out Wednesday, were a deciding factor in the shake-up, WGN vice president and general manager Tom Langmyer said only that WGN looks at ratings “on a long-term basis.”

“We also look very strongly and closely at the identity of the radio station and what it means to Chicago.”

Brandmeier’s status as “an iconic Chicago personality” made him a perfect fit.

Besides doing two stints at the “Loop,” Brandmeier also hosted mid-days for a short period at WCKG-FM (105.9) when it was all-talk and spent time broadcasting from Los Angeles.

“They’ve had great success with Garry Meier in the afternoon, so the Brandmeier/Meier audience is now the WGN audience,” said Chicago-based radio consultant John Gehron. “They’ve grown up with these guys.”

Meier welcomed Brandmeier back to Chicago’s airwaves during an on-air, off-the-wall interview on WGN- Friday evening. Brandmeier gave listeners a taste of his wackiness, bouncing from topic to topic and admitting the Michigan Avenue studio, visible to the public behind glass, distracted him.

“I don’t know if I have the mental capacity to work in a showcase studio because I keep looking around,” he said. “What are those horse things? Blinders? Get me those.”

With new boss Langmyer just a few feet away, Brandmeier jokingly complained about a broken mic, his “$4 headphones” and said “I have no idea what I’m going to do in the mornings.”

He also gave a nod to legendary WGN morning man Wally Phillips, and acknowledged being in the famed WGN studio “is about the weirdest thing in the world.”

“WGN. It seems weird to say. Can we change the call letters?”

In a nostalgic twist, Brandmeier’s latest gig will once again put him head-to-head with his former morning-drive nemesis Robert Murphy, who ruled the roost at WKQX-FM (101.1) from 1983 to 1993 and has since September manned the morning mike at Rewind 100.3 FM.

In response to listeners who might wonder why Chicago radio stations tend to recycle on-air personalities — Brandmeier is 55, Meier is 62 and Murphy is 60, to name just a few — Langmyer said “there’s great continuity to life in Chicago. WGN is a place where you expect to hear familiar friends that you’ve known for a long time, and it’s great to have someone like Jonathon Brandmeier on the team.”

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