Program Director Kevin Metheny Also Leaving

CHICAGO (CBS) – Former Chicago City Clerk and convicted felon Jim Laski is gone from WGN radio, as is his boss, program director Kevin Metheny.

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The news-talk radio station announced Thursday afternoon that Laski will leave the station immediately after nearly a year and a half. He had been hosting the 7 to 10 p.m. slot.

Laski, a former alderman, was elected city clerk in 1995. But he was convicted and sentenced to two years in prison in 2006 for taking bribes to get companies work in the city’s infamous Hired Truck Program. He ended up serving a year in prison in West Virginia.

On his WGN radio bio page, Laski is described as “a rebel and maverick in political circles taking on the tough issues and fighting the powers that be in City Hall,” and says “his flair for speaking his mind leaves no one guessing where Jim stands on the issues.”

But the decision to hire Laski was widely criticized, and was even mentioned as a decision that had helped “destroy” WGN radio the scathing October New York Times story about the culture at the Tribune Company.

The article quoted former WGN midday host Steve Cochran as calling those in charge at the station “a collection of carnival workers who are only looking after their friends, giving jobs to their buddies,” and questioned why a convicted felon would be on the radio while ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich was on trial.

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Tribune Company chief executive officer Randy Michaels has resigned since the article ran.

Meanwhile, Metheny leaves the station as WBEZ-Vocalo media critic Robert Feder says if he wasn’t “the worst program director in the history of Chicago radio, I don’t know who was.”

Feder criticized Metheny for firing and demoting several popular personalities, and for hiring talent that “had no affinity from Chicago whatsoever.” Feder called Laski a “joke.”

Feder also referred to Metheny in the column headline with the “Pig Virus” nickname he was given by Howard Stern.

In the announcement on the WGN Radio Web site, station vice president and general manager Tom Langmyer spoke cordially of Metheny and Laski.

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“We thank Kevin and Jim for their contributions to WGN Radio,” Langmyer said in the announcement, adding that developing a new evening show will now be the station’s focus.