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Media: May 2024 • WXRT’s New Afternoon Host Andy Chanley

| April 30, 2024

Andy Chanley

It’s not like changes are made every day to the daytime lineup at WXRT. When disc jockeys come to work at the station, they stay a decade or five. New WXRT afternoon man Andy Chanley was well aware of this when he took the job.

“That was my biggest worry going into all this,” Chanley admits, “but honestly, the reception I’ve gotten here has been beyond anything I would have fantasized about. Everybody is just so nice. And I mean, everybody in the building. Everybody I talked to on the phone, everybody I met on the street, has been just so welcoming and open. That’s been a real pleasant surprise for me.”

It probably helps that despite his longtime LA radio pedigree (30 years), Andy is originally from the Midwest and knows Chicago and WXRT.

“I was born and raised in a suburb of Indianapolis, and I went to school at Purdue. So, I was just an hour and a half down the road for many years. As a kid with my folks, I made trips to Chicago, and then in college, and this is the first radio station I thought was really cool. From a music standpoint, I thought, oh my god, you can play that on the radio? Because people weren’t playing REM in Indianapolis. They weren’t playing Big Star. So, this was the first place I heard a station like this, and I’ve come to find out in my travels, it’s the only one on the planet. So, it’s pretty cool to be a part of it now.”

Even when he was in LA, Chanley ran into Chicago radio icons regularly.

“(Former WLUP great) Sky Daniels was the one that hired me in LA at my last station (KCRW),” he points out.

But it wasn’t Sky Daniels that pointed him in the direction of WXRT.

“It was Laura Duncan, WXRT’s program director (and brand manager),” he explains. “She is amazing. Even though she’s had a tremendous radio career herself, she likes standing off to the side off in the wings and letting others get the adulation for some amazing things that happened here at the station. There is no one I’ve ever met, that’s a fiercer protector of the identity of a radio station. She knows what WXRT means to Chicagoans because she knows how much it means to her. There’s nobody that’s going to splash mud on WXRT while she’s on the job.”

Chanley will be collaborating closely with her because he has also been brought in to be the music director. That transition will be more gradual.

“Luckily, I’m still settling in on the air. And they’ve given me a really soft landing here. I’m learning how everybody does their radio show and getting to learn Chicago, but yeah, I’m going to be rolling up my sleeves and helping to continue to try to make the station the best it can be. Here’s the funny thing about that, though. It’s almost comical to think about being a music director at a station where everybody picks their own music.”

As the music director, he’ll also deal with the many rock stars who visit the WXRT studios. He has quite a bit of experience with this from his time in Los Angeles.

“It’s pretty neat when you’re sitting in the same room with artists like Steve Earle and Bob Mould and watching them play their instrument right in front of you. Those are pinch-me moments. I’ve interviewed Johnny Cash, James Brown, and Neil Young, and it’s interesting to me how human each of those three examples were. It was like when I first moved out to Los Angeles; I remember pulling up for the first time to an intersection and looking up and seeing a sign that said Sunset. ‘Oh, Sunset Boulevard is just a street.’ You know, it’s such an ideal that you don’t realize it’s a real place. And then when you talk to some of these people, you realize how human and normal they are. One of my favorite people that I’ve interviewed was David Crosby. There’s nobody that was more ready to laugh or poke fun at himself than David Crosby. I expected Robbie Robertson, I don’t know why, but I expected him to be guarded or standoffish. He couldn’t have been warmer. I felt like I was talking to an uncle. So yeah, that’s, that’s a fun part of being in radio, getting to talk to some people that have made some music that you hold dear.”

And what is his plan for winning over the Chicago radio audience?

“I’ve long believed that you can hear if someone’s having a good time. Even when you can’t see them, you know, you can hear a smile. You can tell if someone is enjoying what they are doing. These people at WXRT are of a similar mind, and they told me, ‘Listen, Chicago people are going to know if you’re full of shit. They’re going to know if you’re lying about something or if you’re not authentic. And if you tell them the truth, they’ll give you a shot.’ Luckily, I’m too stupid to know any other way to do it. I’m just gonna be myself and spread as much joy as I can.”

Chanley can be heard every weekday afternoon (3-7 pm) on WXRT, 93.1FM.

-Rick Kaempfer

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