Cumulus Media announces that it is promoting Ann Thomas to program director for heritage news/talk outlet WJR, Detroit. The company says that Thomas becomes the first female program director in the station’s 101-year history. She rises from her previous role as assistant program director and executive producer. Thomas started at WJR as an intern in 1982 and was then hired full-time as producer of a WJR program called, “The Other Side of the News.” She went on to become a WJR news reporter and anchor, winning several Associated Press, United Press International, and Detroit Press Club awards for Breaking News and Auto Negotiations. In 1999, Thomas was named executive producer of the “Paul W. Smith Show.” Thomas also produced the WJR-MSU tailgate shows for 15 years from 2006-2021. She has hosted WJR programs including “The Healthy Woman Show,” “Opportunity Detroit,” “The WJR Gardening Show,” and “Women Who Lead,” which she launched 11 years ago to highlight Michigan women from all walks of life doing great things in the community. Cumulus Media RVP and market manager Steve Finateri says, “Ann Thomas is the heart and soul of WJR and has been deserving of this move for a very long time. Her fingerprints are already all over this heritage, award-winning radio station, but we are all excited to see what the future holds with Ann in the driver’s seat!” At the same time, Cumulus promotes Mike Wheeler from WJR PD to operations manager for Cumulus Detroit/Ann Arbor. In the newly created position, Wheeler will manage operations for the company’s four Detroit stations and four Ann Arbor stations.
Cumulus Media’s Detroit news/talk 760 WJR announces a series of lineup changes that will take effect on June 20 in which all of the daytime hosts will be live and local. One of the biggest changes is longtime station morning host Paul W. Smith moving to the newly created 12:00 noon to 2:00 pm daypart as host of “Focus.” Smith replaces the Westwood One-syndicated “Dan Bongino Show.” WJR says that Smith’s hosting the “Focus” show “will expand the community’s access to Michigan’s most influential political, civic, and business newsmakers.” Moving to mornings is current early afternoon host Guy Gordon, who becomes host of “JR Morning” from 6:00 am to 9:00 am. “All Talk” with Tom Jordan and Kevin Dietz airs from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon. Following “Focus” will be the newly created “JR Afternoon” show with host Chris Renwick from 2:00pm-4:00pm, followed by “The Mitch Albom Show” from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm. Additionally, WJR is bringing back “SportsWrap” with host Sean Baligian airing from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm. Cumulus Detroit VP and market manager Steve Finateri says, “Launching the ‘Focus’ show will give Paul W. Smith the opportunity to expand, on and off the air, his unmatched relationships with Michigan’s most influential newsmakers, for the benefit of our audience and our advertising partners. WJR is ‘The Great Voice of the Great Lakes’ and going 100% local is a big win for all Michiganders who count on WJR to inform and educate us about everything happening here in our state!” WJR program director Mike Wheeler adds, “What a lineup! Each of our talent is a brand unto themselves and have a unique vision and take on the events that shape the news. We are absolutely living up to our claim that WJR is where Michigan comes to talk.”