Cumulus buys Merlin’s Chicago stations

Cumulus MediaCumulus Media, owner of news/talk WLS AM 890 and classic hits WLS FM 94.7, is about to double its presence in Chicago with the addition of classic rock WLUP FM 97.9 and WIQI FM 101.1 (which will revert to modern rock WKQX).

“The addition of WKQX and WLUP will add two legendary radio brands to the two legendary radio brands Cumulus already owns in Chicago,” John Dickey, executive vice president and co-chief operating officer of Cumulus, told Inside Radio. “We are excited to be growing our presence in one of the best media markets in the world.”

Terms of the agreement with Merlin Media announced Friday were not yet known.

Sale of the two Merlin stations essentially closes another chapter in the saga of Randy Michaels, who launched the company in 2011 after his exit as CEO of Tribune Co.

Dickey told there will be no change in the Loop’s format, adding: “We will migrate WKQX from 87.7 to 101.1 next week and return it to alternative, dropping '90s, 2K & Today.' We will simulcast it for a month.

"The support for alternative in that market is huge and these are fabulous signals in the market — and these two acquisitions will improve our situation with the rock format and present a great opportunity.  That puts Cumulus in a pretty significant place with a rock presence in that market and nationally too.  Yes, it could lend itself to a national rock brand.  That and sports go hand in hand."