It doesn’t take much for fans of Jonathon Brandmeier to start buzzing about what’s next for the longtime Chicago radio star.
Ever since he was released as morning personality at Emmis Communications classic rock WLUP-FM (97.9) last November, the mere sighting of Johnny B. at a radio station has been enough to send the rumor mill into overdrive — and bloggers into a frenzy.
So when Howard Stern mentioned on his SiriusXM Satellite Radio show Thursday that Brandmeier had recently come by Stern’s New York studios (and commented on a note from Brandmeier about an appearance they’d made together on “Donahue” in the 1980s), a new round of speculation began. Adding credence to the rumors was the fact that Tim Sabean, who worked with Johnny B. as program director of the Loop in the early ’90s, now is senior vice president of the Howard Stern Channels at SiriusXM Radio.
For now, however, there seems to be nothing more to it. Sabean, who still maintains many Chicago contacts, downplayed the significance of the visit, saying only that Brandmeier had been in New York on business and “just stopped by” to say hello.
Earlier in the week, Brandmeier told me that he was “just exploring everything from TV to Internet to CB radio [and] meeting everyone I can to hear it all,” with nothing to share publicly yet.‚ “Until then,” he added, “the search‚ for a good time continues.”
Although Brandmeier has been gone from the Loop for six months, there appears to be lingering bitterness on both sides. Brandmeier’s website still prominently features “Johnny B.: The Unemployed Radio Mo Fo,” the music video screed he unleashed against his former employers for firing him. Unlike his phenomenal first run at the Loop — from 1983 to 1997 — Brandmeier wasn’t able to replicate his ratings success under Arbitron’s new Portable People Meter system the second time around.
When PPM ratings this week showed an increase in the Loop’s morning share among listeners between 25 and 54 since Brandmeier left, Emmis Chicago market manager Marv Nyren couldn’t resist sticking it to him one more time, telling the Sun-Times’‚ Lewis Lazare: “I think we’ve given people not as many reasons to leave the station.”