Program director out as WLS shakeup continues

Program director out as WLS shakeup continues

Bob Shomper

One day after the new boss of WLS-AM (890) vowed to revitalize the program department and “restore the luster of the WLS brand,” he swept out the program director of the Citadel Broadcasting news/talk station.

Bob Shomper was forced out Friday after little more than a year on the job. His departure was foreshadowed in an interview here with Michael Damsky, who was just promoted from vice president and director of sales to president and general manager: “My top priority is make sure WLS is being programmed to best showcase the talent that we have.”‚ In announcing the move to his staff, Damsky said:

“As we evaluated the strengths and weaknesses of WLS-AM, we realized that we needed a program director with a different vision to capitalize on all of the opportunities that this compelling news environment and exciting political season present our station. We will immediately begin looking for the person with that vision.”

The shakeup began last Friday with the ouster of Mike Fowler after two years as president and general manager of WLS-AM and oldies sister station WLS-FM (94.7). That move was carried out personally by Farid Suleman, chairman and CEO of Citadel Broadcasting.

Shomper joined WLS in December 2008 from Tribune Co.-owned news/talk WGN-AM (720), where he had been program director for more than two years. He previously spent seven years as program chief of WBAP-AM in Dallas/Ft. Worth. During his tenure at WLS, Shomper hewed to a conservative line, with the station emphasizing hard-edged political topics over lighter, more entertaining fare. Among his most publicized moves was hiring disgraced former Gov. Rod Blagojevich as a weekend host.

With the advent of Arbitron’s Portable People Meter ratings system, audience shares for WLS were strong in the early part of 2009, but dipped later in the year.