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WGN-AM chief Langmyer leaves abruptly

Tom Langmyer vice president general manager WGN Radio.

Tom Langmyer, vice president and general manager of WGN Radio.

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Updated: November 25, 2012 11:34AM

With its parent company bracing for an emergence from bankruptcy, Chicago’s WGN-AM 720 has seen its top manager depart and a member of its on-air talent announce plans to leave.

Tom Langmyer has resigned as the station’s vice president and general manager, a position he’s held since 2005. He disclosed his resignation in a memo to staff late Monday.

Tuesday, the early-afternoon host at the Tribune Co.-owned news-talk station, John Williams, said he will leave at the end of the year. Williams had pulled double shifts, doing a show on WGN from noon to 3 p.m., then moving to another studio at the station to host a three-hour show for WCCO-AM in Minneapolis.

Williams will continue the Minneapolis program and move there with his family.

WGN Program Director Bill White said the departures are unconnected. He also said that while WGN is always considering how to increase its audience, no format changes are contemplated.

White declined to discuss Langmyer’s departure. One industry veteran said the station wants to dress up its books for a sale and get rid of Langmyer’s salary. Langmyer could not be reached for comment.

As part of Tribune, WGN faces the prospect of cutbacks and management upheaval. Tribune is slowly emerging from the bankruptcy and will be under the control of creditors who have no long-term commitment to Tribune news and entertainment businesses. They are expected to sell the company in pieces, separating newspapers such as the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times from the financially healthier broadcast division.

White said he has known of Williams’ desire to leave for some time and that he expects to have a replacement in a few weeks.

“We’re sad about this but happy that John and his family have made the choice they wanted,” White said. He said Williams will continue to have a role at WGN, perhaps as an occasional program host.

Williams said in a note to staffers, “I decided to do just one show — as well as I can — and that one will be at WCCO. Both stations and staffs deserve as much.”

In an interview with Time Out Chicago columnist Robert Feder, Williams said people should not connect his decision to Langmyer’s departure or Tribune’s turmoil.

“Maybe the timing is conspiring against me, but I don’t like the notion [of people thinking] that the water’s getting rocky or John’s jumping ship, because that is not how I planned this,” he told Feder. “I made this decision months ago.”

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