Update 4/30: “Smooth 87.7” signed off following an infomercial at 12am and after a short period of dead air has begun simulcasting new sister “FM News 101.1” WIQI in order to transfer the audience to that station.
Update 4/27: Robert Feder reports the station will be branded as “Q87.7” when it debuts.
Merlin has also hired Jim Richards, most recently PD at Sandusky’s “Click 98.9” KLCK Seattle as Operations Manager of 87.7 and The Loop. Richards has a long history with Randy Michaels, working for him a Jacor, Clear Channel, and Tribune.
Rick O’Dell, PD of Smooth 87.7 made the announcement on the station’s live chat on its website that the station would be changing format when Merlin Media takes control on April 30. Since it is impossible to link directly to the message, Chicagoland Radio & Media has transcribed his statement here.
Original Report 4/24 12:44pm: Merlin Media has signed an LMA to operate Smooth AC “Smooth 87.7” WLFM-LP beginning Monday, April 30. The station has applied for a call change to WKQX-LP, bringing the heritage calls back into the market.
WLFM has been the most successful of the so-called Franken-FM’s, low-powered television stations on Channel 6 operating as a defacto radio station at 87.75 FM, registering a 1.6 share in the March ratings. The station will begin airing news updates from new sister “FM News 101.1” WIQI beginning today at 1:00pm.
Time-Out Chicago’s Robert Feder has already tweeted that the station is expected to flip to Alternative Rock when Merlin Media takes over. In addition to WLFM and WIQI, Merlin Media operates Rock “97.9 The Loop” WLUP in Chicago. If the station does flip to Alternative, it would be returning the format to the market for the first time since Merlin Media took over then “Q101” WKQX and flipped it to News last summer. Merlin principle Randy Michaels had parked the WKQX calls on a still unbuilt station in Watseka, IL.
The Q101 intellectual property was sold to Broadcast Barter Radio Networks last summer which has continued to operate the brand online. Even with the return of the WKQX calls to Chicago, there is no connection between the operators of Q101 and Merlin Media.