WGN 2020

Nexstar Media Group talk WGN Chicago (720) has reportedly cut all ties with Crain’s Chicago Business after the publication ran a story that speculated about a possible spin-off of the radio station.

Recent moves made by TV giant Nextar since acquiring the station as part of a larger purchase of Tribune Media may be “potentially positioning the 95-year-old Chicago station for another sale,” reporter Dalton Barker wrote in the piece published Friday, Jan. 10.

As earlier reported by Inside Radio, WGN has made numerous changes since taking over, including replacing Steve Cochran with Bob Sirott in mornings, Mary Sandberg Boyle being elevated to GM and changes in middays that resulted in the departure of Bill Leff and Wendy Snyder. Upon closing its $7.2 billion purchase of Tribune, Nexstar named Sean Compton Executive VP of WGN Radio, WGN America and Director of Content Acquisition, marking his return to radio after a nearly 12-year absence.

The Crain’s piece said the talent changes have increased ratings, citing data provided by Compton. “Higher ratings could generate more ad revenue, which in turn could attract interest from acquirers,” Barker wrote, while noting that WGN is the sole radio property of Nexstar. The article suggested that iHeartMedia, Entercom and Hubbard could be potential suitors should Nexstar sell. Compton told the publication that Nexstar CEO Perry Sook has said there is no sale “in the cards for radio or basic cable at this time.”

Not happy with the speculative piece, WGN ended its longstanding relationship with Crains’ saying their editors, reporters and contributors would no longer appear on WGN radio shows, according to Chicago media reporter Robert Feder. The WGN microphone was reportedly removed from the Crain’s newsroom and the four-day-a-week “Crain’s Daily Gist” podcast will no longer be hosted on the station website.

A Nexstar spokesman confirmed that WGN Radio had “terminated its relationship” with Crain’s, Feder wrote.

Crain’s Chicago Business Publisher and Executive Editor Jim Kirk said, “The content partnership between WGN and Crain’s has been longstanding and productive. It’s unfortunate that WGN has chosen to end it and we would hope they would reconsider. If not, we wish them nothing but the best.”