Published on Wednesday, 25 July 2012 10:43
Merlin Media is making more changes to WLUP-FM/97.9 The Loop and removing yet another veteran Chicago talent from its airwaves. At the end of this week, Pete McMurray will be done working the morning show. Starting Monday, July 30th, longtime Randy Michaels employee Maxwell will be the new morning show host, working 5:30am-8:30am.
As there is no official word from Merlin Media about this move yet, Pete McMurray and co-host "Sweet Baby Jane" Monzures's future with the station remains unclear at this time. Some in the know have said McMurray is not being fired, but rather being transitioned to a new position within the company. McMurray has worked at WLUP-FM twice in his long Chicago radio career. His most recent stint with the station has been since January 2007, with him taking over mornings in April 2010.
Maxwell did a test run, filling in for a vacationing Pete McMurray earlier this month, although his recent morning fill-in jobs are not what earned him the morning show position. It has said been by a person close to the situation that the main reason Maxwell was brought to Chicago in May by company CEO Randy Michaels, Operations Manager Jim Richards, and Merlin Media was to eventually take over WLUP-FM's morning show. That will now happen on Monday morning.
Listeners to WLUP-FM's sister-station, WKQX-LP/Q87.7 will probably recognize Maxwell's voice, as he goes by the radio name of Slater on the new Alternative Rock station, voice-tracking segments between songs throughout the day.
Maxwell and Slater are just two of the radio names he has gone by in his career, with Max Logan being yet another. His real name is Benjamin Bornstein, an Ohio native who has worked for Randy Michaels (whose real name is also Benjamin) and his Jacor/Clear Channel crew on and off for a great many years. He may be best known for his years as the afternoon drive "hot talk" shock jock on Cleveland, OH's WMMS-FM. "The Maxwell Show" ran on that station from April 2004 until he was released in November 2009. (His show was eventually replaced by Chicago's former Q101 personality Alan Cox, who has enjoyed great success there.)
Maxwell was known for taking a page out of the Randy Michaels radio playbook and starting nasty on-air feuds with radio hosts on competing stations, generating publicity for himself. This included starting public fights with Rover, Opie & Anthony, and others. Angered by these attacks, Rover (Chicago native Shane French, who previously worked at Chicago's WCKG-FM) supposedly acquired hours of off-air recordings of Maxwell, which according to those who have heard the tapes, paint Maxwell in a very unflattering light. Opie & Anthony contributor Jim Norton dedicated many pages of his 2009 book "I Hate Your Guts"
to writing about his deep dislike of Maxwell and his work. In it, Norton writes: "With the exception of fifty people in Ohio, everybody reading this is wondering, Who the f#ck is Maxwell? Exactly. He's a morbidly obese afternoon radio hack in Cleveland who suffers from sleep apnea. One of these absolute jerk-offs trying to sound like a gravelly gritty rock star who 'tells it like it is.' In reality, he's a bald prick who wears thick welder's glasses and has a goatee, which makes him look like Donald Pleasence. He's the quintessential slappable fat nerd trying to sound like a hard-ass."
Norton, a comedian known for pulling no punches, added a few pages later: "Benjamin, and I mean this without rancor -- you're just not a funny guy. Stop trying to be a comedic force -- you aren't, and never will be."
Generating controversy seemed to be a staple of Maxwell's Ohio radio shows. He has been in trouble
before for making numerous Jewish jokes (Bornstein himself is Jewish), and talking about off-color subjects. He was placed on a very public 90 day probation from WMMS-FM in 2009 after telling his audience that Metallica was going to be playing a free concert in the WMMS parking lot that evening. There was never any such concert planned.
Maxwell has been quite open and honest on the air about his personal demons, which includes an addition to heroin. He completed a rehab program for his addiction in 2007. There were rumors that a relapse supposedly played a role in WMMS-FM's 2009 release of him and his show, although the official reason was simply contract negotiations gone bad. In a nutshell: WMMS-FM made an offer, Maxwell wanted more money that the station offered, the offer was then withdrawn, and the two parted ways.
A year after WMMS-FM released him, Maxwell moved to rival Cleavland radio station WNCX-FM, but that job only lasted nine months due to low ratings. Nine months later, he was called up to Chicago to be "Slater" on Merlin Media's Q87.7. In the past, he has also worked in his native Cincinnati, OH, Pittsburgh, PA, Tampa, FL, and Baltimore, MD. In the many radio stations he has worked at before coming to Chicago, all but two of them were Clear Channel-owned stations.
Unlike Pete McMurray, Maxwell is not a sports fan, so while there will still be humorous talk on The Loop morning show after Monday, don't look for the subject of sports to come up too often.
This Maxwell is no relation to the previous WLUP-FM morning show host Dobie Maxwell, who co-hosted mornings from 2003-2004. That
Maxwell, along with Spike Manton and Bruce Wolf, replaced Pete McMurray after his first go-round as WLUP-FM morning show host, which at that time lasted just over two years, much like this most recent stint.
Late today, Merlin Media issued a statement claiming that veteran Imaging/Voice Over specialist Chuck Matthews was hired as the new morning host for WLUP-FM. The statement included a brief bio of Chuck Matthews' career. There were a couple of big problems with the Merlin Media release, though. First of all, it included a picture of Maxwell, not Chuck Matthews. Second of all, they forgot to tell Chuck Matthews any of this. When reached for a comment about this press release, Chuck Matthews tells CRM: "That's news to me! Not leaving CLE. Bad source. Now if Merlin is hiring, I'll gladly talk to them about an Imaging opportunity."
Chuck Matthews can be heard here in Chicago, but not on WLUP-FM. He does voice work for suburban WJJG-AM.
Merlin Media has denied the press release sent out to many radio industry sites with Chuck Matthews' name & bio, along with Maxwell's photo, came from them.