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Sports radio hosts learn mid-show that Trib turning off The Game

Radio host Ben Finfer of WGWG-FM’s “Quigs and Finfer” show learned mid-show Thursday that Tribune Media was pulling the plug on the sports radio station.

The news came down not from management but from media reporter Robert Feder, who tweeted the story during Finfer’s show.

“We’re doing a live show here,” Finfer said on the air. “And to be told this way, it’s really a letdown. We’re getting screwed on this one. … We just found out on Twitter a half hour ago that the station is being taken off the air. We were not told about this ahead of time.

“We didn’t know anything about it. We were coming back from a break and saw on Twitter from Robert Feder that the station is being taken off the air. Can you believe that? A lot of really talented people were hired to work at this station and found out through Twitter that they were fired. Nothing from the bosses.

“I don’t really know what to do for the last hour of this show. I guess take calls.”

Feder’s report said that David Kaplan and David Haugh, who host from 9 a.m. to noon, are expected to continue on Comcast Sports Net after the radio operation ceases. But few of the station’s other sports/talk hosts are expected to remain employed. The weekday lineup includes Finfer, Alex Quigley, Jarrett Payton, Harry Teinowitz, Spike Manton, Mark Carman and Connor McKnight.

“You would assume you tell the employees before the media,” Finfer said on the air. “You assume they have the common courtesy to let some hosts on the air know that something might be coming so you don’t find out when you’re coming back from a commercial break. I’ve never heard of such a thing. I’ve heard of some pretty crappy things in this business. You talk to radio people you’ll hear awful stories about the way they’ve been treated. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard anything like this.”

“They may fire us today now,” Quigley added.

More from Feder’s report:

All of the moves are being made, according to insiders, because the company has been unable to generate sufficient advertising revenue to sustain the programming and talent costs. Total Chicago radio revenue is down 11 percent from last year, according to Miller Kaplan Arase market figures for October 2014.

The GameTribune Media launched The Game 87.7 last February on a low-power television frequency that doubles as an FM radio signal. Leased from Venture Technologies Group, which owns the license, the station previously drew respectable ratings for smooth jazz and hard rock music formats. Despite programming and marketing support from news/talk WGN and its status as the only sports/talk station on FM, the upstart competitor to CBS Radio’s WSCR AM 670 and ESPN’s WMVP AM 1000 never caught on.

“Rick Renteria lasted longer than us,” Finfer said on the air. “Who would have thought Marc Trestman would make it past midseason and not us?”

The hosts attempted to reach Feder — a reporter — to get more information about the future of their station during the show.