Listening to community: WCKG radio dials in local focus at AM 1530
By ALLISON HORNE - firstname.lastname@example.org
Don’t touch that dial, folks, because there’s a new show in town. It may have been around since 1974, but the station formerly known as WJJG now is getting a facelift, starting with some famous call letters: WCKG.
When General Manager Matt Dubiel, formerly of Downers Grove, took over the Elmhurst station in October 2011, he set out to develop a fresh direction. With more than 2.8 million people within the WCKG AM 1530 signal, and 30,000 online listeners per month, Dubiel realized the station had a niche it needed to focus on — the suburbs.
With WCKG one of the few stations based inside DuPage County, Dubiel sees its advantages: location, listeners and a need for something local and relevant. Dubiel is still fine-tuning the big changes. From a possible new location to brand new shows, he says WCKG aims to cater to area businesses and suburban listeners.
What’s new for WCKG?
Changing the call letters shined up the station, but there are a couple of things that are key for us. We got all new equipment that improves the quality of the station, and we put it at full power. We weren’t operating at full power before. Our website is in tip-top shape too, so our online presence is there. Mancow Muller is a Chicago radio show in the morning that’s syndicated, but it’s local. He’s someone people know. He lets us get our feet off the ground. We’re trying to add more local shows, like ‘The Geoff Pinkus Show.’ He’s live and local from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. (weekdays). The next phase of programming lineup changes is to add another show.
What are you trying to do and what’s next?
We’re working on finding a home for the studios in a main street, high traffic, suburban area so people can see, hear and experience the magic of radio in a community way. It would be right in the heart of the action. We're searching for a robust suburban downtown or suburban shopping area to plant our broadcast studios, with windows to the world just like WGN does in downtown Chicago. Towns that have a nice downtown area like Downers Grove … would be great. And we will have podcasting and video casting studios for local businesses and the public to join in. I’ve narrowed it down to the top three, but if someone can convince me that there’s a better place to be, or a business, community or local government wants to work with us, I’m all ears.
We’re not stopping there. My goal for the entire station is to be … focused on what is going on locally, and the people that are living in the suburbs. The city is great, but what’s going on with (Mayor) Emanuel and what’s going on with the parking meters isn’t as important to us in the suburbs. We are devoting a week to every suburb in our coverage area, where we shine the light on the community — Wheaton this week, Carol Stream the week of March 11, Glen Ellyn the week of March 18, and West Chicago the week of March 25.
How has Geoff Pinkus’ new show been going?
It’s been great. Radio used to be gauged on whether or not the phone was ringing, but that was before the Internet and Twitter and Facebook. Geoff is really great with interacting on social media, and the phones have been ringing too. It’s like the saying, ‘If you build it, they will come.’
Find the station
What: WCKG Radio is suburban station rededicated to a focus on DuPage County
Towns in spotlight: Wheaton this week, Carol Stream week of March 11, Glen Ellyn week of March 18, and West Chicago week of March 25.
More info: 1530wckg.com