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WGN radio.png
City of license Chicago, Illinois
Broadcast area Chicagoland / Northern Illinois
Branding WGN Radio 720
Slogan "The Voice of Chicago"
Frequency 720 kHz
First air date May 19, 1922 (WDAP)
March 29, 1924 (first Tribune/WGN)
June 1, 1924 (WDAP becomes WGN)[1]
Format News/Talk/Sports
Power 50,000 Watts
Class A (clear channel)
Facility ID 72114
Transmitter coordinates 42°0′42.5″N 88°2′6.9″W / 42.011806°N 88.03525°W / 42.011806; -88.03525 (WGN)
Callsign meaning World's Greatest Newspaper
Former callsigns WDAP (1922–1924)[1]
Affiliations ABC News
Owner Tribune Company
(WGN Continental Broadcasting Co.)
Sister stations WGN-TV
Webcast Listen Live

WGN (720 AM) is a radio station in Chicago, Illinois, USA. It is owned by the Tribune Company, which also owns the flagship television station WGN-TV, the Chicago Tribune newspaper and Chicago magazine locally. WGN's transmitter is located in Elk Grove Village, Illinois. The station has a news-talk format and is the flagship station of the Chicago Cubs, the Chicago Blackhawks, Northwestern University football and men's basketball, and was the longtime flagship station of Paul Harvey until his death on February 28, 2009.

Since around 1990, WGN has been mainly a news and talk radio station. WGN broadcasts news, weather, traffic and sports every hour. Pat Hughes and Ron Santo serve as the play-by-play team for all games of the Chicago Cubs, and the broadcasts are known as the Pat and Ron Show. WGN is also the radio home of Northwestern Wildcats football and basketball games.

WGN is a high-powered clear channel AM station (50,000 watts), which during nighttime hours is often audible over much of the USA, parts of Canada, and sometimes as far away as Australia and South America. The station also has a 24/7 Internet stream on its website, which carries the station's broadcast programming except for commercial breaks and Cubs games, when public service announcements, station promotions, host-read commercials and alternate programming, is played instead.

WGN is responsible for activation of the Chicagoland Emergency Alert System when hazardous weather alerts, disaster area declarations, and child abductions are issued.



The predecessor to the current WGN was WDAP, which was started on May 19, 1922, by Thorne Donnelley and Elliott Jenkins. Starting in the Wrigley Building, they moved the station to the Drake Hotel in July.[1]

On May 12, 1923, Zenith Radio Company began broadcasting with the callsign WJAZ from the Edgewater Beach Hotel. However, after this brief period, the Tribune switched its operations to WDAP, and the Zenith station became WEBH,[1] eventually being deleted from the license rolls on November 30, 1928.[2] Early programming was noted for its creativity and innovation. It included live music, political debates, comedy routines, and some of radio's first broadcasts of sporting events, including the Indianapolis 500 automobile race, and a live broadcast of the 1925 Scopes Trial from Dayton, Tennessee. In 1926, WGN broadcast Sam & Henry, a daily serial with comic elements created and performed by Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll. After a dispute with the station in 1927, Gosden and Correll took the program's concept and announcer Bill Hay across town to WMAQ and created the first syndicated radio show in history, Amos 'n' Andy.

WGN was a founding member of the Mutual Broadcasting System.

In November 1958, WGN became the first radio station in Chicago to broadcast helicopter traffic reports featuring Police Officer Leonard Baldy.

Over many decades, WGN was a "full service" radio station. The station played small amounts of music during mornings and afternoons, moderate amounts of music on weekends during the day, had midday and evening talk shows, and sports among other features. The station's music was easy listening/MOR-based until the 1970s, when the music was more of an adult contemporary-type sound. The music played at the station was phased out during the 1980s, and by 1990, the station's lineup mainly consisted of talk shows.

Some former well-known personalities on the station include longtime morning hosts Wally Phillips, Bob Collins, and Spike O'Dell, Paul Harvey and Roy Leonard. Orion Samuelson has been the station's farm reporter since 1960.


Recent events

In 2005, Tom Langmyer joined WGN as Vice President and General Manager. In the same year, WGN hired a new program director, Len Weiner, who held the same title with WMVP-AM, the Chicago affiliate to the ESPN Radio network. Not long after his arrival to WGN, the station added a new slogan, "the voice of Chicago," which is still used today. Previously, WGN had branded themselves as "Chicago's News and Talk, Radio 720, WGN." Weiner's tenure with the station lasted about a year, before leaving to head the Boston ESPN Radio affiliate.

Not long after Weiener's departure, WGN added "news/talk" to their name, and began identifying themselves as "The Voice of Chicago, News/Talk 720, WGN."

On April 30, 2008, the station announced a three-year deal making WGN radio "The Voice of the Chicago Blackhawks," bringing NHL hockey to the station through the 2010-2011 seasons.[3]

In October 2008, after a ten year partnership with The Weather Channel to provide the station's weather forecasts, the station began to air forecasts prepared by Tom Skilling and other members of WGN-TV's weather staff.[4]

WGN morning host, Spike O'Dell retired from radio, and WGN moved then midday host, John Williams to mornings. William's old spot, 1-4 p.m. was now vacant. WGN opted to leave that spot vacant for several months, while having other WGN hosts fill-in on a rotating basis, including weekend host Nick Digilio, and Bob Sirott, who hosts "The Noon Show" on the same station, in addition to a weekend program (he also was a prominent news anchor, formerly working for NBC 5 Chicago).

In March, long-time Chicago radio host, Garry Meier was given an audition for the 1-4 p.m. slot. Meier hosted four shows, which is believed to have caused a surge of excitement for the station among younger people, who traditionally never listened to that station. Chicago media message boards exploded with traffic and posts, many excited over a possible permanent Meier presence on the Chicago talk station. After the four Meier auditions, Jerry Springer was given four days to "guest host" as well as Rita Cosby a few weeks later.

On April 2, WGN announced that Garry Meier would now be the permanent host of the 1-4 p.m. slot, weekdays. Meier's first official show was Friday, April 2, 2009. Meier's show will air each weekday when not pre-empted by Chicago Cubs broadcasts.

On May 22, 2009, WGN announced that the Kathy and Judy Show was being canceled at the end of that day's show. The final show was largely a retrospective of the 20 years that the show was on WGN radio. This follows shortly after the replacement of much of the station's weekend lineup.

On June 15, 2009, the station announced that Greg Jarrett would be joining the station on June 22, 2009 as its new morning-drive host, with John Williams being shifted to Kathy and Judy's old time slot.[5]

Coinciding with the hire of Jarrett for mornings, WGN dropped their "News/Talk 720" identity and began identifying itself simply as "Chicago's WGN Radio 720." This new identity was implemented in all station promos, and used by all on air talent.


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