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Columnist
McNeil out as WMVP afternoon host
By Ted Cox | Daily Herald Columnist
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Published: 1/17/2009 11:53 PM

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Dan McNeil has apparently become the latest victim of downsizing in the radio industry.

The all-sports WMVP 1000-AM afternoon-drive host was reportedly told after his shift Friday that his contract would not be renewed when it expires midway through the year and that he would not be returning to the air in the meantime.

McNeil follows Mike North, who got the same treatment from all-sports WSCR 670-AM only closer to the end of his deal last summer. Similarly, Steve Dahl was taken off the air by WJMK 104.3-FM in December with 21/2 years to go on his $1 million-a-year contract, and Mancow Muller was let got by WKQX 101.1-FM and went without a local affiliate for years before landing a talk show on WLS 890-AM last fall.

Even so, the move makes little apparent sense for WMVP. "Danny Mac" was reportedly pulling down a relatively reasonable $600,000 a year, and he was the single most important figure in the station's rise to parity with the Score. Mac, in fact, was one of the keys to the development of the Score over his nine years there, and after joining WMVP in 2000 he built the afternoon-drive show with John Jurkovic and Harry Teinowitz into a force that not only beat the Score but occasionally led the market in the target demographic of men 25-54. They most recently slipped behind the Score's Dan Bernstein and Terry Boers but remained competitive in the top 10.

Carmen DeFalco will reportedly replace him, but he has never instilled the same energy level in filling in for McNeil in the past.

Still, once the station made the decision not to negotiate a renewal, it couldn't leave McNeil on the air. His willingness to state his mind made him the compelling host he was and is, but it also got him into trouble over the years in the form of several suspensions.

He would no doubt have made the next several months painful for station management, who may yet feel his wrath through McNeil's other media outlets. Like North, who launched a morning show on Comcast SportsNet Chicago last week, he's certain to find another rewarding gig elsewhere.