97.9 Chicago

Mary Berner’s Merlin Magic Trick

Cumulus Media CEO Mary Berner called all of Randy Michaels’ bluffs and still came away with most of what they wanted. Cumulus began operating 97.9 WLUP-FM and 101.1 WKQX via LMA in January 2014 that included a put and call agreement where either side had the right to trigger the deal to be converted into a purchase within ninety days of the fourth anniversary of the LMA. That came when Merlin exercised its end of the agreement for Cumulus to pay he greater of $70 million minus the aggregate amount of LMA fees or $50 million for the two stations last October. Had it not been for Cumulus’ bankruptcy filing in November that would have been the end of the story. Whether or not Cumulus liked the deal they would have been contractually obligated to close the deal. Under the cover of ...[Read More]

Educational Media Foundation Acquires 97.9 WLUP Chicago

Update 3/10: WLUP-FM signed-off its Classic Rock format at exactly midnight as Educational Media Foundation’s “K-Love” Christian AC network took over mid-song. Outside of promos from former middayer Lindsey Marie and afteroon host Tim Virgin hyping the format’s move to 101.1 WKQX-HD2 and to purchase Loop logo shirts online, the station ran jockless in its final hours following Steve Dahl’s tribute show simulcast in the afternoon on WLUP-FM and 890 WLS. The final hour of music on The Loop consisted of many songs including the final one making light of the programming replacing it. The final hour of WLUP-FM consisted of: Led Zeppelin – Stairway To Heaven Europe – The Final Countdown Lynyrd Skynyrd – Free Bird REM – It’s The End Of T...[Read More]

Final Listen: WLUP Chicago

“97.9 The Loop” WLUP-FM Chicago didn’t get the same big sendoff that “100.3 The Sound” KSWD Los Angeles did when it was sold to the Christian AC K-Love Network, but irony abounds in its last 24 hours before the news broke. When I listened to midday host Lyndsey Marie on Monday, March 5, the first break I heard began with “looks like we’re in for a miserable ride home” (because of the snow that day). Okay, anything can sound ironic afterwards, but in the 10 p.m. hour on that day, WLUP-FM Chicago played Guns ‘N’ Roses, “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door,” followed shortly thereafter by Joe Walsh, “Life’s Been Good,” and Bad Company, “Rock And Roll Fantasy.” After the Joe Walsh song, evening host James Van Osdol did what was apparently his final break, about the Eagles coming ...[Read More]

Steve Dahl To Host WLUP Farewell Show

Cumulus Media and Merlin Media have decided to give 97.9 WLUP-FM Chicago an on-air farewell after all. Steve Dahl, the personality most associated with the station’s history, will host a farewell program on Friday afternoon from 2-6pm. That happens to be the same timeslot Dahl normally fills at Cumulus News/Talk 890 WLS. Dahl launched WLUP-FM into the stratosphere in July 1979 when as morning host he led the infamous Disco Demolition Night during a Chicago White Sox doubleheader at Comiskey Park as part of a promotion between the station and the team. Fans in attendance were offered 98 cent tickets as long as they brought one disco record for Dahl to blow up between games. The event led to an on-field fan riot as they stormed the field and led to the White Sox forfeiting the second g...[Read More]

Cumulus And Merlin Media Revise WKQX/WLUP LMA

Cumulus Media and Merlin Media have agreed to a revised LMA term for Classic Rock “97.9 The Loop” WLUP and Alternative 101.1 WKQX Chicago. Cumulus will continue operating both stations until April 30, 2018 with the ability for two mutually agreed three month extensions with Cumulus reimbursing Merlin Media up to $15,000 per station per month for reasonable costs and expenses in connection with the operation of the stations beginning on February 1, 2018. Upon completion of the LMA, Cumulus at its sole discretion will choose which employees will be transferred back to Merlin and which will stay with the company. The settlement also terminates Cumulus’ $50 million purchase of the two stations. The deal is setup to allow Merlin Media time to plan to take back operations of the stations o...[Read More]

Randy Michaels Explains What Will Happen With WKQX/WLUP

In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, Merlin Media CEO Randy Michaels has given details for what will happen should the US Bankruptcy Court allow Cumulus Media to walk away from its lease and purchase of Classic Rock “97.9 The Loop” WLUP and Alternative 101.1 WKQX Chicago. Michaels says that in the short-term he would continue to operate the stations as they are, stating “We are fully prepared to step in and operate the stations essentially as is. There are no changes being planned right now, other than behind the scenes.” There is an agreement in place to allow Merlin to operate the stations from Cumulus new Chicago studios at the NBC Tower. He would also bring on the current airstaff from the two stations. He also says that Cumulus “not made a reasonable count...[Read More]

Cumulus Seeks To Cancel WLUP/WKQX LMA & Purchase; And Chicago PBP Deals

As part of its ongoing bankruptcy proceedings Cumulus Media has asked the United States Bankruptcy Court for permission to walk away from fourteen contracts at its February 1 hearing. The contracts include a handful of tower and building leases, advertising agreemnts, owed money to the NFL’s Buffalo Bills and former Westwood One President Bill Battison, and Westwood One agreements to carry programming nationally from CNBC and the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks. The three contracts with the biggest impact will be felt in Chicago. At the start of 2014, Cumulus began operating Merlin Media’s Classic Rock “97.9 The Loop” WLUP and Alternative 101.1 WKQX Chicago via LMA. Cumulus paid Merlin on average $600,000 per month to lease the two stations and claims to have suffered ...[Read More]

Merlin Media & Unsecured Creditors File Objections To Cumulus Restructuring

Merlin Media and the “Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors” have filed objections to Cumulus Media’s planned bankruptcy restructuring. The Unsecured Creditors, who combined hold nearly $610 million of Cumulus debt, state that the deal with the holders of nearly 69% of the $1.729 billion in term loans contained numerous terms that inappropriately benefit the term loan lenders at the expense of the unsecured creditors and would significantly overcompensate the Term Loan Lenders to the detriment of unsecured creditors. Merlin Media had exercised its put option to convert its LMA of Classic Rock “97.9 The Loop” WLUP and Alternative 101.1 WKQX Chicago to Cumulus for $50 million in late October. Merlin claims that Cumulus sought to negotiate the price to a lowe...[Read More]

Cumulus Converts Chicago LMAs To Purchase

Cumulus Media is converting its LMA of Classic Rock “97.9 The Loop” WLUP and Alternative “101 WKQX” 101.1 WKQX Chicago from Merlin Media into an outright purchase. Cumulus will pay the greater of $70 million minus the aggregate amount of LMA fees or $50 million for the two stations as it exercised the put and call agreement within ninety days of the fourth anniversary of the LMA. Cumulus began operating WKQX and WLUP on January 3, 2014. The two stations join News/Talk 890 WLS and Classic Hits 94.7 WLS-FM in Cumulus’ Chicago clustr. The deal marks the end of Randy Michaels’ Merlin Media, which was formed in 2011 with the purchase of these two stations and 101.9 WRXP New York from Emmis and quickly flipped WKQX and WRXP to its ill-fated “FM News̶...[Read More]

Troy Hanson Upped To Cumulus Chicago VP/Operations

Cumulus Media has promoted Troy Hanson from Program Director of Alternative 101.1 WKQX Chicago to Vice President of Operations for its Chicago cluster. Hanson will also retain his role as VP/Programming of Rock formats for the company while adding oversight of Classic Hits 94.7 WLS-FM, Rock “97.9 The Loop” WLUP, and News/Talk 890 WLS. Concurrently the company has signed WLS-FM Program Director Brian Thomas to a multi-year contract extension to remain with the station and his other roles as VP/Programming for Classic Hits and Corporate Program Director for Country. Cumulus Media announces that it has promoted Troy Hanson, Program Director for Chicago Alternative station 101 WKQX-FM and Vice President, Programming, Rock formats, to the newly created position of Vice President, Op...[Read More]

WLUP Sets Mancow Debut Date

Mancow will make his return to mornings in Chicago on Monday, March 30. WLUP has concluded its stunting surrounding its vacant morning show with Muller announcing “he will accept the job” from Tokyo, where he is currently vacationing. Mancow tells Robert Feder that “This will be my final act in media.” Classic Rock 97.9 The Loop/WLUP Chicago announces that Erich “Mancow” Muller has won its listener-generated morning show talent search and will join The Loop as host of a brand new entertainment-based morning show. Mancow announced on-air Friday that he would return to Chicago airwaves with the new show, Mancow Morning Show on 97.9 The Loop. Mancow’s new show will debut on Monday, March 30, and will air weekdays from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. Mancow will reunite popular...[Read More]

WLUP Relaunches With New Staff

Cumulus Classic Rock “97.9 The Loop” WLUP Chicago is bringing in a new on-air staff as new Program Director Wade Linder begins to make his mark on the station. Lyndsey Marie moves from sister “Rock 100.5” WNNX Atlanta. She will be joined by a pair of former staffers of Alternative “Q101” WKQX. Tim Virgin returns to the market from CBS CHR “Energy 103.7” KEGY San Diego for afternoons. Virgin previously worked at WLUP in the late 1990’s. Pyke, most recently at WIOT Toledo and on many Clear Channel Rockers via Premium Choice will host nights. Pyke previously worked in Chicago at both Q101 and CHR “103.5 Kiss-FM” WKSC. Mornings will remain vacant for the time being while Cumulus conducts a nationwide talent search for a new morn...[Read More]

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