CHGO is Chicago’s newest sports media company


Photo courtesy of Nicholas Moreano. Members of CHGO sit in their studio and prepare for their show.

There’s a new sports media company knocking on the door of one of the largest media markets in the country.

CHGO, pronounced as it’s spelled “C-H-G-O,” is the third sports media market opened up by ALLCITY Network after its first location, Denver (DNVR), and its most recent – Phoenix (PHNX).

Through written content, frequent podcasts, Discord lounges and merchandise, CHGO is attempting to create an open community of sports fans in Chicago.

“We’re a little bit different,” head of content, Kevin Kaduk, said in an interview with the DePaulia. “There are some outlets that just do fan stuff and there’s some that just do journalism and I think we have a good mixture of the two.”

The company’s third campaign launch introduced the newest personalities of Chicago sports. Some, however, were not that new to Chicago sports fans.

CHGO acquired Vinnie Duber, former White Sox beat reporter for NBC, Herb Lawrence, a producer from 670 the Score and, Will Gottlieb, former beat reporter for Bleacher Report and The Athletic, just to name a few.

Most notably, CHGO hired Adam Hoge, one of Chicago’s most familiar faces covering the Chicago Bears, and Olin Kreutz, former Bears offensive lineman and frequent on NBC Sports and 670 the Score.

“I think everyone here buys into the vision,” Kaduk said. “They understand that it’s not just about working for an RSN anymore or a newspaper. It’s about starting different platforms. I think people were attracted to being able to have their names in the cornerstone here and building from the ground up.”

At their studio in the West loop, each beat sits around, laptops in laps, to discuss their team in a modern, brick-wall aesthetic. CHGO is more of a hangout space for their daily podcast shows. Nonetheless, their reporting and content are professional.

“Think about some of the podcasts you like,” Kaduk said. “Do they do it every day Monday through Friday? Twice a week? If it’s twice a week, you probably want to hang out with them on the other three days. I think with us, you always know you can plugin and it will be three of your favorite Cubs personalities talking about the Cubs.”

One of the podcasters is DePaul University graduate school alum, Nicholas Moreano, who ran the podcast that was bought out by CHGO, the Chicago Audible, with his friend Will DeWitt.

Moreano started the podcast as a junior at the University of Iowa, doing post-game reactions after every Bears game. With no journalism classes under his belt and recording the episodes in his dorm room, Moreano and DeWitt built up their reputation to score credentials to cover Bears games at Soldier Field.

As they continued to grow their channel, they fielded two buyout offers simultaneously. CHGO called as the pair was about to sign a contract with a different media entity. In the end, the pair agreed to the buyout offer from CHGO.

“I’d never heard of ALLCITY network and how does it line up with the day we’re supposed to sign another contract?” Moreano said. “The Chicago Audible was our resume. They liked what they saw and they made us an offer and that’s how we ended up with CHGO. I always think what if they didn’t call us on that Friday? Things happen for a reason.”

Each team has a veteran journalist(s) paired with an up-and-comer. Moreano is considered the wunderkind of the Bears beat and he’s been learning from more experienced reporters. . Whether it’s from watching film, doing his homework or going live on the show, he’s always ready. Kreutz even taught him how to effectively pass block at the studio.

“Once I hit him, I was like ‘Man, that guy’s still a wall,’” Moreano said.

Jon Greenberg, a professor at DePaul and Lake Forest College, taught Moreano in graduate school. Greenberg is also one of the founding writers of The Athletic, which recently sold for $550 million to the New York Times.

Greenberg can relate to being part of a sports media company’s journey from the ground up, as he witnessed it firsthand with The Athletic. He wrote an article about CHGO and gave them some wise advice to “remain flexible” with their identity and how they produce content.

“The Cubs won in our first year and we weren’t prepared for it,” Greenberg said. “We didn’t really know how to monetize it. Now, it would be huge for us. We were just winging it back then.”

Launch timing is important, according to Greenberg from his experience watching The Athletic grow into the media monster that it is today.

ALLCITY network’s CEO, Brandon Spano, claims to be an expert at monetizing sports media businesses. Through advertising podcasts, subscriptions to written content and merchandise sales, Spano has the blueprint for a lucrative media company.

He’s already established his success in Denver, the founding location.

“We use these buzzwords like ‘community’ and ‘culture,’” Kaduk said. “If you look at Denver, they’ve gotten so big that they have their own bar now. People have ‘DNVR’ tattoos. Some people have met through DNVR, gotten married.”

ALLCITY Network will be expanding to other cities this year. But, Chicago is their main focus at the moment, according to Greenberg.

“Chicago’s really their first big market,” Greenberg said. “Chicago’s a different animal. Passionate fans for five teams. This is their big play, their owner told me. He’s really putting his chips into Chicago. He put a lot of money into this.”

CHGO’s hook is the podcasts, as the crew shoots them every single day. Kaduk mentioned they have a saying around the studio that the “fourth person on the show is the fan.”

“We want this to be a place where everyone can feel like they can come to,” Moreano said. “Whether you’re another professional entity, a casual fan, or a fanatic. We’re all about community and just building it up to make it where you want to be a part of it.”