This just in: Jonathon Brandmeier, one of the last of Chicago radio's million-dollar superstars, is signing off at the Loop.
After four years this time around as morning personality at classic rock WLUP-FM (97.9), Brandmeier is expected to part company with the Emmis Communications station. Although he still has three months left on his contract, sources said he's not expected back on the air after Monday.
Brandmeier, 53, achieved his greatest success during the Loop's heyday in the 1980s. His morning show dominated the ratings among young adult listeners, and his live music performances packed concert arenas. He even hosted a nationally syndicated variety show, "Johnny B. on the Loose."‚ Following an ownership change at the Loop, he jumped to the former WCKG, where he hosted middays from studios in Los Angeles until 2001.
But unlike his first run at the Loop -- from 1983 to 1997 -- Brandmeier failed to replicate his ratings success this time. As measured by Arbitron's Portable People Meter system, his morning show most recently ranked 21st‚ in the market with a 2.2 percent share of listeners between the ages of 25 and 54. Overall, the Loop ranked 17th‚ with a 2.6 share.
Money no doubt played as much a part as ratings in the decision not to renew Brandmeier's contract. The one-year, $1 million extension he signed last March may have been among the last seven-figure radio deals the market will see for a long time.
That's not to say he'll be off the air here for good. Sources at two other stations -- Tribune Co.-owned news/talk WGN-AM (720) and Citadel Broadcasting news/talk WLS-AM (890) -- said they've made informal overtures to Brandmeier in recent months.
After obtaining an early release from his contract with CBS in L.A., Brandmeier's return to Chicago in 2005 had as much to do with personal considerations as with business ones. "I missed my family," he told me at the time. "With my dad dying [the previous] summer, my wife battling cancer, all of my brothers moving from L.A. back to Wisconsin, it really made me realize life is too short. Everyone I care about is here."
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