Even without half of the show’s namesake, “Eric and Kathy” continues its dominance in the Chicago market. The morning show, now in its 20th year at Hubbard hot AC “The Mix” WTMX (101.9), has been missing Kathy Hart for the past seven weeks. Her absence has not been addressed by Hart or her cohost Eric Ferguson.
Despite all this, the program continues its consistent top-ranked performance. In the Nielsen May 2017 PPM, the show remains No. 1 6+ staying basically flat (6.9-7.0). The show also holds onto the top position with Persons 25-54, while also holding steady with a tenth of a point in share change from April. The May PPM covers the first four weeks of Hart being MIA from the program.
The station somewhat addressed her absence last month. “Kathy Hart, of ‘Eric and Kathy’ fame, is taking some time off and we are looking forward to her return,” VP/general manager Jeff England said in a statement. “In the meantime, we want to assure our loyal listeners that the goal of ‘The Eric and Kathy Show’ team is to deliver the best morning entertainment to Chicagoans every morning, as they have for 20 years.”
Chicago media reporter Robert Feder has been told that Hart’s contract is up at the end of the year and that station advertisers don’t seem to mind that she has not been part of the show in recent weeks. He also writes that the station will not say if Hart is away from the show under the Family and Medical Leave Act, which allows employees to take unpaid, job-protected leave from their employment due to family or medical issues.
Feder reports that Ferguson and Hart have not had the best relationship off-air and said, “there’s a palpable lessening of tension on the show with her away.” To which a listener added, “The show is much better without her. I have listened for years and have always thought she was condescending towards everyone. Eric, Melissa and Whip are much more at ease without her.”
Eric and Kathy are slotted to appear at this year’s Conclave as part of the panel for the “All-Star Talent Session,” which is scheduled for Fri. July 28.