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Vocalo adds music, switches to more traditional radio format


Silvia Rivera

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Updated: May 10, 2011 7:53PM

After nearly four years of trying to make user-generated content a viable concept on Vocalo,org’s FM radio station at 89.5 and accompanying website, executives are shifting gears and implementing a new, more regimented approach with music and spoken-word content targeting a young adult audience.

User-generated content for Vocalo, an arm of Chicago Public Media, which also operates public radio station WBEZ-FM (91.5), was for the most part a confusing mish-mash of podcasts, stories and commentary with no over-arching focus to make it all palatable. And no music.

In the end, user-generated material simply wasn’t working, managing director Silvia Rivera conceded Wednesday.

“Too much of the material wasn’t relevant to our audience,” said Rivera, who also said her staff spent a large of amount of their time trying to turn what users had generated into something worthy of going on air.

The station has started to roll out the changes.

Most of the talent who will now host various programs already work for Vocalo, but in less high-profile positions. Musically, the emphasis will be on jazz, funk, soul, reggae, hip-hop and other musical styles. Vocalo has hired Jesse De La Pena as its new music curator. De La Pena’s roots are in the break-dancing and graffiti movements on the city’s southwest side in the mid-1980s.

Now Vocalo will be programmed more like a traditional radio station, but with the goal of having a hip vibe. The Vocalo website now will serve to promote and expand on the new programming.

The new morning show “The Vocalo Morning Amp,” hosted by Brian Babylon and Molly Adams is described as a fast-paced call-in talk show.

“The Overdrive” afternoon drive show hosted by Luis Perez and Shantell Jamison will focus on both music and stories, which could range from interviews conducted by Vocalo staff to material contributed by listeners to discussions on timely topics. “The Music Vox,” airing from 6 to 8 p.m. weekdays, will offer newly released music, live performances and music news.

A show called “The Mix Tape” will fill the mid-day hours from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with an eclectic mix of music and spoken content produced daily by the Vocalo staff.

Rivera said the switch to the new format will not increase’s operating budget, most of which comes from contributions and sponsorships. “We will be operating more efficiently,” said Rivera.

‘Windy City Live’ to fill local ‘Oprah’ slot

ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7’s new live morning show has its co-hosts. Now it has a name — “Windy City Live.” The show will replace “The Oprah Winfrey Show” in the 9 a.m. time slot on Channel 7 when Winfrey completes her 25th and final season of the show in late May.

“Windy City Live” will be broadcast live from the Channel 7 studios in the loop in front of a studio audience. Ryan Chiaverini, WLS’s weekend sports anchor, and Valerie Warner, a morning show co-host and traffic reporter at Tribune Co.-owned WGN-Channel 9, were selected from among scores of candidates to co-host “Windy City Live.”

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