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More Changes At WGN: Badesch, Cooper Out; Digilio Given More Hours

The last few days have seen numerous changes at WGN-AM 720. Even more changes have or are about to take place, though. Here are some of the latest ones...

WGN Radio has said goodbye to its overnight news crew. Paula Cooper, who started with WGN-AM as an intern back in the mid-1990s, was released along with Turi Ryder on Thursday night. Roger Badesch, who joined WGN Radio almost eight years ago, did what could be his final overnight newscast last night.

Cooper was flight attendant for well over a decade when she decided to change careers to something more Earth-bound. She went into the career of working in radio and television. Besides her time on and off at WGN-AM, Paula Cooper has worked WDCB-FM, as well as Metro Networks, where she was heard delivering news and traffic reports to such Chicago radio stations as WUSN-FM, WNND-FM, WUBT-FM, and WAIT-AM. She also worked in programming and producing for the short-lived satellite station Channel Earth.

At WGN-AM, she produced the radio show for Ian Punnett, followed by the overnight show of Steve King and Johnnie Putman's. When she returned to WGN-AM a few years later, she was reunited with Steve & Johnnie as the overnight news anchor.

Roger Badesch may have started at WGN-AM in 2007, but he started in radio as a general assignment reporter at WKQX-FM from 1979-1981. (That station was a news station in the mid-1970s, which became a rock station in the late-1970s that still had full newscasts.) In addition to his time at WKQX-FM, he also did radio reporting for Associated Press, United Press International, and the Mutual Radio Network, as well as working in news radio in Las Vegas for a period of time.

Along the way, Badesch held other jobs, including being a press aide for the City of Chicago, operating his own media public relations firm, and being a full-time school teacher, first in the suburbs and currently within Chicago.

While Badesch may be done with his regular overnight news shift, he is not entirely done with WGN Radio. He will still be used for fill-in work, including working twice next week (Sunday and Thursday).

On his personal Facebook page this morning, Roger Badesch said the following: "Nearly 8 years ago I took my own advice - 'If you don't try, you'll never know.' I was hoping that WGN Radio would take a chance on a 53 year old who hadn't been 'on the air' since 1982 and hire me in their news department. Yes, I was a full-time teacher. Yes, I knew the pay in radio would be drastically lower than my teaching pay. Yes, I knew that by the time I'd gotten around to applying they would have probably already hired someone. I'm still a full-time teacher. The pay is still lower than my teacher pay. They HAD already hired someone. But I was in the right place at the right time and had what they wanted in ability and sound and earned a part-time position working Friday nites with Nick Digilio. I trained with Christopher Michael (whom I found out had replaced me many moons ago at WKQX-FM). After a few years, Brian Noonan joined our overnite family and I was honored to join his 'big show'. Over the years I've worked with many of the on-air talents - Garry Meier, Mike McConnell, Dean Richards, Greg Jarrett, John Williams, Bill Leff, Milt Rosenberg, Steve Cochran, and others who were there for only one or two visits."

He added "Being on WGN is truly a childhood dream of mine. I'm not making it up. My parents only listened to two radio stations - WGN and WNIB. In my teen years I found WLS, WCFL and WVON. But I always came back to WGN. I know my continued work with WGN is meant to be. Like I always say - 'ya never know.'"

Other changes include adding to fan favorite Nick Digilio's air time.

Starting next week, fans of Nick Digilio's will want to have their radios tuned to AM 720 on Saturdays. That day of the week is Nick Day on WGN-AM, as he bookends the station's Saturday programming. At Midnight on Friday night/Saturday morning, Digilio begins his show, which will run to 5:00am. At 6:00pm, Digilio returns to the airwaves, going until Midnight. One can also look at it as Nick D is on all day Saturday, with a 13-hour lunch break in between.

Obviously, those hours can change slightly (especially the later Saturday shift) due to live sports programming.

Digilio remains a top fill-in for the station, most often for Bill Leff's weekday overnight shift.

Along with all of the above, the news anchors shifts for morning and afternoon are being flipped, with Andrea Darlas switching to mornings and Steve Bertrand returning to afternoons.

These are just some of the latest changes taking place in just the last few days, which include the exit of Turi Ryder, the cancellation of "WGN Sports Night," the addition of "The David Kaplan Show" (which included the re-hiring of Mark Carman), the exit of Carol Roth, and the cancellation of "The Noon Show."


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