Alternative Returns To 101.1 Chicago

Q87.7 Q101 Alternative 101.1 Chicago WKQX WIQI I101 Merlin Media CumulusUpdate 1/10: Following Semisonic’s “Closing Time”, 101.1 WIQI flipped to a simulcast of “Q87.7” as the Alternative format made its return to its heritage frequency in Chicago.

Currently stunting as being still under construction, the station is branding itself currently as “A New Alternative Station Coming To 101.1”. WIQI has applied to transfer the WKQX call letters back to 101.1 as well. The call letters are currently held on a CP in Watseka, IL controlled by Randy Michaels’ Radioactive LLC.

Listen to the return of Alternative to 101.1 at

The first hour of the new 101.1 format consisted of:
Foo Fighters – Times Like These
Cage The Elephant – Come A Little Closer
Phoenix – Lisztomania
Bastille – Pompeii
Smashing Pumpkins – Today
The Raconteurs – Steady As She Goes
Linkin Park & Steve Aoki – A Light That Never Comes
Stone Temple Pilots – Plush (Acoustic Take 2)
Lorde – Royals
Rise Against – Savior
Beck – Devil’s Haircut
Fitz & The Tantrums – Out Of My League
Arctic Monkeys – Do I Wanna Know
Incubus – Drive

Update 1/8: The Alternative format of “Q87.7” will make its return to the 101.1 frequency on Friday, January 10 at 9:00am.

In a post on the station’s Facebook page, Program Director PJ Kling wrote:

GUESS WHO’S MOVING!! Many have read the press release talking about the return of Alternative to 101.1. It’s true! Being totally honest with you, we have as many questions as you do, but we do know what the first step is.

Beginning Friday, we will simulcast our station on both the 87.7 and 101.1 signals for a period of 30-45 days. That begins at 9am.

After that simulcast, we’ll be locked into 101.1 permanently.

Get your packing tape and bubble wrap, share this, tell your friends, and get the word out.

Alternative is returning to 101.1.

Original Report 1/3: Cumulus Media has announced it has leased with an option to later purchase Classic Rock “97.9 The Loop” WLUP and Rhythmic Hot AC “I101” WIQI Chicago from Merlin Media.

The deal will also include the intellectual property of Alternative “Q87.7” WKQX-LP, which will return to 101.1 replacing WIQI next week. The two signals will simulcast for a month. Cumulus will begin operating WLUP and WIQI today via the LMA.

Cumulus currently owns Classic Hits 94.7 WLS-FM and News/Talk 890 WLS in the Chicago market.

Reports of the sale of the Merlin Media properties to Cumulus was first broken by RadioInk.

This story will be updated as more details become available.

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  1. MediaFan85 says

    Could this be a comeback for the Alternative Rock format? I thought WIQI would stick with the current format for a while, and they had just tweaked to Rhythmic Hot AC. Also, any word on what will happen to 87.7?

    I am glad to see Q101 coming back. Should’ve never flipped in the first place. FM News and Hot AC were disasters for the station and they’re better off rocking out.

  2. ksradiogeek says

    Too quick for Rhythmic AC! Well, Q101 needed to come back anyway.

  3. Bizzle says

    I’m hoping Cumulus will buy 99.5 in NYC and bring Alternative back to NYC as well. I hear they are rolling out a national Alternative Rock brand hopefully it will be on a full signal in NYC as well. It’s about time. I guess this means that Merlin Media is no more?

    1. Nathan Obral says

      Cumulus just doesn’t do alternative rock. Period. See the multiple incarnations of 99X in Atlanta and The Zone in Toledo.

      It actually represents more of a do-over with 101.1 because, while Q101 never set the ratings world on fire, all of the formats that Merlin tried were such colossal failures that never equated any past performances by Q101.

      As for 99.5 New York, that license may be forfeited before the lunatics at Pacifica will give it up.

  4. thelegend1670 says

    Hate to burst your bubble, but if Cumulus wants to bring the Q101 brand back to Chicago, it will have to buy the intellectual property from Matt DuBiel’s Broadcast Barter Radio Networks. They acquired the Q101 website and intellectual property from Emmis Communications. Rumors were circulating that BBRN would file suit against Merlin for unauthorized use of the “Q” Branding, but nothing to that end has occurred to the best of my knowledge. This is the same Matt DuBiel who brought the WCKG callsign and libertarian talk format back to Chicago on a 760-watt daytimer. My prediction is DuBiel’s bark is worse than his bite and he’ll more than likely sell to Cumulus.

    1. Nathan Obral says

      Lew Dickey stated to Crain’s that Cumulus has no plans on calling the revived WKQX “Q101.” Which is a smart tactical move. It would have been criminally stupid to NOT say that, especially with Mr. Dubiel breathing down their throat.

      Dubeil may sell to the Dickeys, but not immediately. Sure, he’ll sue them for moving the WKQX calls back to 101.1, but I doubt that he’d have any legal standing as it is not Merlin who is making the request. Cumulus can also easily brand 101.1 as “101KQX”, “101.1 WKQX,” “X101” or “K101,” as the “Q101” brand is not a make-or-break deal.

  5. Nathan Obral says

    Odd that they would even bother to revive alternative music on 101.1 (with or without the Q101 name). A flip to country with their manufactured “NASH” brand was too obvious.

    Shame Tribune couldn’t buy them, though.

    1. Mark says

      Especially with Trish Biondo just on the street. Granted, the emphasis with Nash is on the national morning and nighttime shows, but having someone like Trish available to bring people to the station would’ve been great for Nash.

    2. K.M. Richards says

      I’m sure they have their reasons, however out of touch with reality they might be.

      I saw Lew Dickey referred to on another industry news site as “Cumulus co-COO” and all I could think of was that “cuckoo” certainly fits. (Come on, tell me “co-COO” doesn’t look like it’s pronounced that way.)

  6. EDM radio 87.9 says

    I’m so glad that Chicago is getting its heritage station back on the right frequency. I wish some broadcast companies leave radio alone. The radio is for the people not the broadcast companies.

    1. K.M. Richards says

      Tell that to the stockholders.

  7. Raymie says

    To those asking what happens to 87.7: probably death.

    The station must go digital in 2015, as a consequence losing its analog audio signal on 87.7 FM. The TV station might just become another LPTV running infomercials.

    1. Nathan Obral says

      Cumulus will probably stick one of their HD-2 feeds from either WLS-FM, WLUP or WKQX on Channel 6 and ignore it. They do have the rights to the lease of the station until the digital switchover, but no effort will be made to really “do anything” with it.

      The spectrum auction is still a confusing deal, but in a market like Chicago, the spectrum space that Channel 6 holds would be worth **something,** no?

  8. Bizzle says

    What should they name it?
    Rock 101.1
    101.1 Rock
    FM 101.1
    1.01.1 FM
    Alternative 101.1 or Alternative 101
    Radio 101.1 or Radio 101
    Alt 101.1 or Alt 101

    1. Nathan Obral says

      Or Cumulus negotiates with Matt DuBeil to buy the **entire** Q101 franchise outright, and graft that onto the alternative format that is now currently on WIQI and WKQX.

      Both sides claim nothing is happening, but seriously. That the 87.7/101.1 simulcast is going without a name for a month suggests that something really is taking place, otherwise, it would have taken a different name like “Rock 101” already.

      Cumulus has precedent with WABD/97.5 in Mobile, which is a pseudo-continuation of legendary CHR WABB/97.5 Mobile (Cumulus hired all the former WABB DJs and traded with EMF for WABB’s old signal, but couldn’t acquire the WABB calls).

      It would not shock me to see them do everything possible to “restore” the old Q101. Even if they aren’t successful, there is also “101X,” “101 K-Rock” and “101KQX” to fall back on.

  9. oasisrulz says

    Do you think they will bring Electra back, where is she now? Its strange, she was let from Y-100 here in Philly when R1 destroyed a great Alternative station, then she was let go the same way when Merlin purchased 101..1..

    1. Mark says

      Radio One “destroyed” it because no one was listening to it except Beavis and Butt-Head.

  10. oasisrulz says

    If you call a 3.5 rating, with an inferior signal, and a new company not caring about the format and not promoting it “nobody listening”, more power to you…

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