Lovers Lane
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Media: November 2013

| November 1, 2013

Bill and Wendy WGN_web2

Back In The Loop

When Wendy Snyder and Bill Leff were let go as the morning team of Q101 to make way for Mancow in 1997, they naturally assumed they would work together again.

“I felt like we had some unfinished business,” Wendy says. “I had no way of knowing it would be sixteen years before we got another chance to work together full-time again.” They both remained in radio during the interim, they just weren’t working together. Bill hosted mornings at Windy 100, later became a part of the Roe Conn Show on WLS, and eventually landed as overnight host at WGN-AM. Wendy worked with Buzz Kilman and Steve Dahl at WCKG, before landing as the morning traffic reporter at WLS.

But even though their paths had diverged, they remained in contact with each other. “I would listen to his overnight show on the way in to WLS every morning,” Wendy explains, “and I would text him funny stuff and try to crack him up.  Obviously, I was always hoping that we could get back together. Working with him had been the most fun I’ve ever had in radio.”

When Jimmy de Castro, their old boss at WLUP, came aboard as the general manager of WGN-AM earlier this year, the wheels began turning to finally bring them back together. De Castro had been brought in to return the station to its former glory, and he knew had to shake up the lineup. When the dust settled, Bill and Wendy had been inserted into the 9am-Noon slot. The results were instantaneous. These two knew how to do a show together.

“That’s what is so magical to me,” Wendy says. “After a gap of 16 years we jumped right back into it. It’s great. The hardest part of my day is getting there on time, because I’m not used to that traffic. There was no traffic at all at 3 in the morning.  But that’s the only difficult part of my work day, because it really doesn’t feel like work after that. It’s like hanging out with my buddy.”

Chemistry is something that can’t be taught, and Wendy says it’s something she and Bill have had since their very first day on the air together at the Loop in the early 90s.

“I had been doing a show with Tony Fitzpatrick,” Wendy recalls, “After Tony quit, they paraded in people trying to find a new co-host – and they couldn’t seem to make up their mind. Matt Bisbee was the program director and said, ‘I’ve got one more guy. He’s a former stand-up (comic), and he’s really funny, and you should try him out. ‘It clicked instantly. Bill is so funny, he made me funnier, because I worked so hard at trying to crack him up. Chemistry can’t be created. You either get it or you don’t, and you know pretty quickly.”

And now that they’re reunited again, “putting the band back together” with some of their former co-workers from the Loop, it  adds further to the comfort level. “Right now WGN is very much like it was back at the Loop. All of the shows are promoting each other – it has more of that family type atmosphere that we had in the old days. The first day I got off the elevators at WGN I was greeted and hugged by (longtime de Castro assistant) Geri Wells, and I felt like I was home.  It’s like I went away to college for a while and now I’m home again.”

What kind of a show can we expect from Bill and Wendy? “We’re doing water-cooler talk,” Wendy explains. “The stories that people are talking about. If there’s something big going on in politics, like the government shutdown, we’ll talk about it, but not from a ‘our way or the highway’ point of view.  Mostly we’ll be talking about real life. I almost treat being on the air as a confessional. I don’t mind admitting if I’ve done something wrong or something stupid. I’m just being genuine. I’ll admit I’m not a great housekeeper, I have ADHD, I’m a bit unorganized. This is reality radio. I think more people can relate to that.  That’s the way we were trained to do it at the Loop. It’s the only way I know how to do it. ”

In some ways Bill and Wendy do a typical boy-girl show, but there is one major difference. “In our case I’m usually the one that has the guy point of view and he has the girl point of view,” Wendy says with a laugh. “I’m kidding, but not really. We do like to give each other a hard time. I think Bill enjoys that I have that naughty side. All I can tell you is that I just love being on the air with him. He’s one of the funniest people I’ve ever known. He’s a great, great interviewer. He’s a nice guy. What else could you ask for?”

How about being on the air with him on Chicago’s most legendary radio station? “It’s really something, isn’t it?” Wendy admits, almost pinching herself. “It’s the pinnacle of one’s radio career to be at WGN. I couldn’t be happier.”

– Rick Kaempfer

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