CBS to blow up Chicago's "Fresh" FM, simulcast all-news WBBM-AM


It has been reported everywhere that CBS Radio’s WCFS-FM Fresh 105.9 will blow up its AC format 7/14 for a simulcast of sister station, all-news WBBM-AM. The move is aimed at beating cross-town Merlin Media’s flip of WKQX-FM (Q-101) at Midnight on the same date — which has been speculated to go all News, and soon. Now it’s official, from CBS Radio:

WBBM Newsradio 780-AM, Chicago’s only All-News radio station and one of the most trusted brands in the market, today announced that beginning on Monday, August 1 it will launch a simulcast of its Edward R. Murrow award-winning programming on 105.9 FM. For 24-hours a day, seven days a week, Chicagoans can easily find their familiar traffic and weather together on the eights, along with the latest breaking news, business, sports, and Chicago Bears games using the prominent AM or FM broadcast technology.

Said Rod Zimmerman, CBS Radio Chicago’s Senior Vice President and Market Manager, “WBBM Newsradio has built a flawless reputation, and is a name well-known by millions of listeners in the Chicago area.  Since 1968, we have served the community with sound journalism and information through broadcasts on 780AM.  As we take this next step in advancing the availability of WBBM we do so with the same integrity and judgment that has guided us for the past 40+ years.

RBR-TVBR observation: The game of poker, which is Randy Michaels’ favorite game with cigar-in-mouth, may be what’s going on here. He made CBS Radio blink first.

No one knows for sure what Michaels is going to do in Chicago. Everyone is assuming News. But if Michaels’ game plan was to make CBS Radio blink, what formatic hole does that leave open in Chicago for him to move into? In other words, why would Michaels now spend all of the cash to go all-News on FM when well-established WBBM is the leader?

From a programming standpoint, Michaels loves to use the press to his advantage. So far, we haven’t heard him hire anybody so far that shows a strong indication that he’s going all-News. He has hired a bunch of folks that he likes around him and trusts. This does not necessarily mean all-news.

It could be Hot Talk; it could be Indie Rock, it could be anything. Remember, this is Randy Michaels. There is no real money in a music format but a bet in the poker game is a Hot Talk.