Two well-known Chicago radio stations are being sold to a controversial media tycoon.
Classic rock station WLUP-FM (97.9), known as the Loop, and the long-time alternative staple WKQX-FM (101.1), known as Q101, will be sold for more than $110 million in cash. Their former owner, Indianapolis-based Emmis Communications, will also take a minority stake in a new parent company called Merlin Media LLC, run by former Tribune Company CEO Randy Michaels.
Michaels left Tribune last fall following reports that he ran it like a frat house, complete with parties and profanity and sexually-charged behavior. But veteran Chicago media columnist Robert Feder said, despite that, Michaels does know radio.
"It's in his blood, it's always been his life, and people are not surprised that he couldn't wait to get back into the business," Feder said.
Rumors are churning that Michaels may turn Q101 into an all-news station to go up against WBBM-AM, one of the top stations in Chicago.
If that happens, "we are likely to see the outbreak of a new kind of radio war in Chicago," Feder said.
A spokesman for Michaels says he won't comment on any format changes for a few weeks.