iHeart and Pandora do a very good job using AI to curate playlists. Terrestrial has something most others do not, 10 minute stopsets of commercials. They are already at a disadvantage. "Easy to use" is not relevant as it was 5 or 10 years ago. Only thing they can offer is local, live, consistent jocks. They are going the other way into "iPod Mode" and running 7 hour AM drive shows. People are leaving. Why hear a jockless iPod when they can hear their own with no commercials? Or limited commercials and AI that curates their own playlist? This will snowball in the next few years unlike the last few.
WBBM will not go back to AM, but not for the reason you stated. They will run sports and breakaway more than in the past to make more money. (great idea).
Also relating to WBEZ and WBBM-AM they are in different worlds. Yes, they share a (small) audience. WBEZ is commercial free. They are not all news. They have national feeds. They have specialty shows. The people tend to listen longer on WBEZ than WBBM which has crazy cume (people check in and out often). WBEZ is more of a threat to WGN, WLS-AM and WCPT. Kudos to WBEZ becoming a major player in the market. One reason is, how bad terrestrial commercial radio has become.
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