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Steve Cochran to go full time, Kathy and Judy returning to WGN radio

Steve Cochran

Steve Cochran

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Updated: September 22, 2013 6:34AM

You’ll soon hear Steve Cochran full-time on WGN radio — and a bit of “Kathy and Judy” — as the station makes some big changes.

Cochran joined WIND-AM (560) in 2011 and later left to freelance for WGN.

Two sources with knowledge of the deal confirmed that Cochran will replace Jonathon Brandmeier as the station’s morning host. Brandmeier’s last day will be Friday. He will move to an online presence.

WGN general manager Jimmy de Castro told the Sun-Times that some media reports regarding a lineup shakeup “got it wrong” but said he could not yet confirm or detail programming changes.

Fan favorites Kathy O’Malley and Judy Markey also are making a comeback Sept. 14 for a two-hour show running 10 a.m. to noon on Saturdays, according to Markey.

Markey told the Sun-Times that she’s excited to get in touch with listeners again — after being dropped from the morning lineup in 2009 — but said she was cautious when de Castro approached the two about a break from retirement about six weeks ago.

“It wasn’t like we jumped at it. We wanted to know what the deal was,” Markey said. “But two hours a week is like coffee with your best people and it’s our hope that our former listeners will find us, and new listeners too.”

Markey said she believes de Castro’s vision and lineup change will help renew the station: “It’s a great move to get people to understand that WGN really cares about the listeners, instead of the Randy Michaels thing where he’s just putting old friends in new places.”

Veteran Chicago broadcaster Bob Sirott on Monday announced that he’s leaving WFLD-Channel 32 to return full time to WGN-AM with his wife, Marianne Murciano. Sirott said via email that the show will “probably be a daytime shift” Monday through Friday. On Twitter on Tuesday, Sirott said he’d also be involved in “some other cool projects for Tribune Broadcasting soon.”

The changes come not long after de Castro announced he’d reunite with Tribune Co.’s president of local broadcasting Larry Wert in May. The duo ruled Chicago’s radio roost back in their days at the Loop (WLUP-FM 97.9). WGN-AM personalities Garry Meier and Jonathan Brandmeier, and Steve Dahl are Loop alums as well.

Could Dahl be in the mix for the station’s new lineup?

“No one has made me an offer I can’t refuse, and I’m presently very content growing my podcast network every day,” Dahl said via email.

De Castro recently said the AM station was in need of change: “We need to be the station that’s newsbreaking. We are live, local 24/7. No more taped shows. We will be doing what Chicagoans are asking and conversing about and telling us about. That will be the content of the station. If it’s driven by pop culture, by sports, by news, by books, by art — whatever it is will be driven by what people in Chicago are talking about and wanting to converse about. To that end, I need people who can do all that.”

For years, WGN-AM has struggled to increase ratings in key demographics, particularly among listeners in the advertiser-coveted age bracket of 25 and 54. Leadership has been an issue too, especially during a bumpy two-year tenure of program director Kevin Metheny from late 2008 to late 2010.

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