Tribune’s talent raid on WLW-AM in Cincinnati was averted Tuesday (June 15) when the Clear Channel station announced it had re-signed Bill “Willie” Cunningham to a new, long-term agreement. For 10 years, Cunningham’s award-winning noon to 3 p.m. show has been No. 1, beating Rush Limbaugh.
WLW, known as The Big One, already lost its midday host, Mike McConnell to WGN-AM, Tribune’s News/Talker in Chicago. Rumors that Cunningham might follow suit swirled with the news that Cunningham was working with Tribune on a pilot for a TV Talk show called “Big Willie.”
Had Cunningham joined McConnell and moved to the Windy City, it would have left a big hole in WLW’s programming lineup.
“We are extremely pleased that Willie will remain part of the 700WLW team for many years to come,” said Chuck Fredrick, president and market manager of Clear Channel Cincinnati. “The Big One is one of America’s great radio stations because of its personalities and Willie and 700WLW are synonymous.”
In the end, Cunningham’s ties to Cincinnati were too strong. “Cincinnati is my home. The first air I breathed. The first milk I drank was from Cincinnati. Others may have come as carpetbaggers to loot the Queen City and then move on. Willie will remain true.”