Thursday, July 19, 2012

7.19.12 Bee-otch of the Day: Merlin Media

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Name: Merlin Media
Age: 1
Occupation: radio broadcasters
Last Seen: Chicago
Bee-otched For: proving that they couldn't do magic right


Merlin's magical wand has gone limp.

After just one year of doing an FM news format, both WIQI 101.1 Chicago and WEMP 101.9 New York City have flipped to formats that people *actually* enjoy. WIQI is now "I101", playing a 90's-centered Adult Hits format (ala Jack FM) and WEMP - now WRXP again - is Alternative as "New Rock 101.9".

A year ago, former Clear Channel and Tribune executive Randy Michaels formed Merlin to purchased several radio stations from Emmis Broadcasting, who owns a sliver of Merlin. They bought out Classic Rocker WLUP 97.9 The Loop and what was Alternative WKQX Q101, along with AAA-formatted WRXP. Their intention was to flip the two rockers to All-News since Michaels is a huge fan of spoken word formats, and since most people listen to FM, why not do all news, all the time?

Bad idea.

Both 'RXP and Q101 went by the wayside, leaving both towns without any considerable new rock stations, especially New York. In the end, the Chicago station had a .4 while the New York station had a .6. Both Q101 and WRXP were in the 2 share at their demise.

Thankfully, Merlin knew that what they did was pure stupidity. In May, they began leasing out the 87.7 frequency (technically analog TV channel 6) and brought back the Alternative format to Chicago. Despite a lousy dial position and signal, Q87.7 is now at a 1.9 in the ratings, way better than 101.1 now. Since Merlin sold the rights of Q101 to somebody else, they cannot use the name "Q101" at 101.1 anymore.

A few days ago, all the employees of Merlin's News stations were called into the room, and were told that they were all getting let go. The FM All-News experiment was a pure failure, and deservingly so.

Look. Q101 and WRXP had formulas that shouldn't have been messed with in the first place. When a town loses its rock station, it's like a town losing a sports team, or even worse. Yeah, there's satellite radio and the internet, but I think it's a joke that New York has a ton of dance and Hispanic stations but no rock. Yeah, it's nice to experiment once in a while, but turning something that had a 2.whatever to a .5 is just flat-out stupid.

Terrestrial radio: making bad decisions in the first place since 1920.

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