Randy Michaels Acquires WRXP New York & WLUP/WKQX Chicago From Emmis

Randy Michaels Emmis RadioActive LLC FM News Talk FMNews FMTalk Q101 101.1 WKQX Chicago 101.9 WRXP New York 93.9 KXOS Los Angeles Merlin Media

Update 9:40am: It’s official. Randy Michaels and GTCR, a Chicago investment firm have acquired 101.9 WRXP New York and 97.9 WLUP and 101.1 WKQX Chicago from Emmis Communications under the name Merlin Media while Emmis will retain a minority share of the stations.

They will take over operations of the stations via LMA within the next 45 days. As we explain below, expect a flip from Modern Rock to News/Talk at WKQX and WRXP when all is said and done.

Update 7:00pm: A few names have been announced for the new group. John Gehron, most recently COO of AccuRadio.com has been named Chairman/Advisory Board and will oversee the two Chicago stations. Gehron previously was a Regional VP and Market Manager for Clear Channel under Michaels. Gehron tells RAIN that he will continue work with Accuradio and his personal consultancy.

Liz Aiello joins the company as VP/New York. She has been Senior VP of Broadcasting for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia overseeing the Martha Stewart Living channel on SiriusXM. She also worked for Sirius for Howard Stern’s channels.

Robert Feder, who first broke the story of the sale this morning, adds that consultant Walter Sabo will be involved with the new group. Sabo is one of the originators of the FM Talk format with the development of New Jersey 101.5 in the early 90’s.

Original Report 9:04am: As first reported by TimeOut Chicago’s Robert Feder this morning, an all hands staff meeting is in place at Emmis Communication’s Chicago cluster where it is expected to be announced that Michaels will be acquiring one or both of Classic Rock “97.9 The Loop” WLUP and Modern Rock “Q101.1” WKQX.

When the move is announced expect a flip to News/Talk to follow most likely at Q101. Michaels has had the domain registrations in place since last December, which also hint at possible New York and Los Angeles components to this deal. FMNews1011.com (for WKQX), FMNews939.com (For Emmis’ KXOS Los Angeles currently leased to Grupo Radio Centro?), and the typo filled FMNNews1019.com (for WRXP New York?) were registered to Michaels’ Radioactive LLC on December 22, 2010 with Michaels himself listed as the Administrative Contact.

Just last week anonymous registrations for 1011FMTalk.com, 1019FMTalk.com, and FMTalk1019.com appeared as well.

Sounds like there’s still going to be a lot more to this story as the day progresses.

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  1. Michael says

    I will be upset if RXP flips to News/Talk. Such an awesome station.

  2. Mark David says

    My knowledge of the New York City radio market is limited, but hasn’t WRXP been performing relatively well as of late? Flipping it to FM Talk sounds very strange to me. In fact, the entire story sounds a bit strange. I guess we’ll have to wait and see what develops.

    1. Joseph_Gallant says

      Could Clear Channel decide not to wait and yank Rush Limbaugh, et,. al. from WABC-770 and use the CC/Premiere shows as the basis for an FM talk station (read: flipping WAXQ-104.3 to talk) that could launch before WRXP can go to talk??

  3. Joseph says

    If WRXP{ is to change formats, it should go country.

    While having an FM talk station might work, there’s a huge hole for country in New York, and if properly programmed and promoted, could be surprisingly successful!

  4. Lou Pickney says

    I’ve met Randy Michaels and consider him to be a radio programming genius. If rumors are true that he sees an opportunity for FM News/Talk in Chicago and NYC, it could really shake things up in those two huge markets.

    As for WRXP, perhaps its present music format can live on via an HD sideband channel?

    My hope is that Randy will pipe in the Bubba the Love Sponge ® show for mornings on WLUP, particularly with BTLS having experience working in the Chicago market going back to the late ’80s.

  5. Charles Everett says

    Ahh, Randy Michaels, the Jacor/Clear Channel fratboy who was forced to resign as CEO of Tribune Company! That shows the world how much of a genius he is.

    Clear Channel is not touching Q104.3 — it’s a top-10 station with a healthy cume and makes plenty of profit. Country is a rural format that’s difficult to sell in big cities.

    The big loser in all this could be ESPN. Before this sale was announced, there were constant rumors that WRXP would be leased to ESPN to simulcast 1050 and make WEPN a full-market signal.

  6. joe benjamin says

    NYC is too news/talk saturated—-country is where it is at!!!!!!!!

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