In the 24 years he’s been in Chicago, Erich Mancow Muller was never one to shy away from cameras or microphones. Until Tuesday.
As he left WLUP FM 97.9 for the last time, the normally garrulous broadcaster walked past TV news crews waiting outside his studio. Later in the day he turned down multiple requests for interviews on radio shows and in other media. The sale of The Loop and the sudden demise of his morning show was still too raw and too upsetting even for a notorious publicity hound like Muller.
“The Loop meant something,” he told me later. “It was the stuff of legend and of Chicago heritage. I don't think people realize what they've lost . . . yet. It was a 41-year-old psychedelic trippy guitar-driven freak-out dream of a radio station that is waking up to the realities of 2018.”
As late as Monday, Muller said, he had received assurances that Cumulus Media would be operating the station as usual. So when he woke up Tuesday to learn that he’d be hosting his last show on The Loop that very day, it came as a stunning disappointment.
Educational Media Foundation announced plans to buy the classic rock station from Merlin Media for $21.5 million and convert it to a noncommercial contemporary Christian music format under its syndicated K-Love brand. Automated programming airs until Saturday when The Loop will flip to K-Love.
“I was able to make people laugh or think — on bad days — but I was never able to save souls,” Muller said. “I wish the new owners all good things. Go share the good news. Sincerely.”
Of his three years on The Loop, he said: “We sure had a ball. What silly fun we had in a Chicago that has become very serious. My hope was always to be the pressure valve, to be an escape for hardworking people during a brutal Chicago commute.”
So what’s next for Mancow? “I'm off to hang out with Ray Rayner, Bozo, and Kup.”
Tuesday’s best comment: Lorelei Shark: The LOOP . . . where Chicago Rocked 🙁 Sad day for us.