The future of Chicago's progressive talk radio took an unexpected turn Tuesday with the resignation of Jeff Chardell as interim vice president and general manager of‚ WCPT-AM (820). He doubled as director of sales at the Newsweb Radio station.
Chardell's exit follows the late-February departure of Harvey Wells, who had been vice president and group station manager of Newsweb Radio for six years. While he'd carried the interim title for two months, Chardell was believed to be vying for Wells' job permanently.
The 30-year veteran of Chicago media sales and management confirmed Tuesday that he's leaving, effective May 11, to accept a new position as director of health care marketing and sales with Tribune Health Care, a national sales initiative integrating broadcast, print and online platforms of Chicago-based Tribune Co. Of his tenure at Newsweb, Chardell said:
"It was a very good opportunity for me at the time. They've been very good to me. They've got an exclusive, niche format that I truly believe in. It's a format that really, really works for our clients and our listeners. They listen for long periods of time and they love what we do."
A Chicago native and University of Illinois at Chicago graduate, Chardell worked for a variety of radio groups and was director of new initiatives for Sun-Times Media before joining Newsweb as director of sales in 2008.
His move comes just days before the Federal Communications Commission is expected to approve Newsweb's bid to upgrade WCPT from daytime-only to 24-hour broadcasting (although its nighttime signal will reach only a limited area in the south and southwest suburbs). WCPT continues to simulcast on WCPY-FM (92.5), WCPT-FM (92.7) and WCPQ-FM (99.9), all owned by Newsweb.
Still unfilled is the vacancy created by the resignation of Jake Hartford, who'd hosted Saturday mornings for two years on WCPT before rejoining Citadel Broadcasting news/talk WLS-AM (890) earlier this month. Hartford was among a handful of local personalities on a station whose weekday lineup consists exclusively of syndicated programming.
In the latest Arbitron quarterly Portable People Meter survey, WCPT and its simulcast outlets had a combined audience share of 0.5 percent -- good for 36th‚ place among listeners age 12 and older.