EMF’s In The Loop As A Chicago Legend Bids Farewell

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It was the intention of Cumulus Media to acquire two radio stations in the Windy City from Merlin Media. However, Cumulus’ financial difficulties led to the eventual dismantling of a deal that would have seen it obtain WKQX-FM “Q101” and WLUP-FM 97.9.

Now, Merlin Media — the company led by noted radio industry veteran Randy Michaels — is selling WLUP.

Cue up “Jesus Is Just Alright” — a switch to a noncommercial Christian Contemporary music format is coming for the storied Rocker. ​​​​


Merlin on Tuesday morning (3/6) revealed via a Form 314 filing with the FCC that it is selling WLUP to Educational Media Foundation, the prolific buyer of radio stations that operates the Christian AC KLOVE and Christian Top 40 Air1 noncommercial networks.

The purchase price is $21.5 million.

An escrow deposit of $1.075 million is being made by EMF with escrow agent WashingtonFirst Bank.

There is no broker involved in the transaction.

Merlin’s legal counsel in this deal is Marissa Repp of Repp Law Firm in Washington, D.C., and Karen Krenz and John Kropp of Graydon Head & Richey LLP in Cincinnati.

EMF’s legal counsel, as has been seen in all other recent transactions, are David Oxenford and Paige Fronabarger at Wilkinson Barker Knauer LLP in Washington.

In a late-evening Tweet on Monday, Chicagoland Media reported that WLUP will take the KLOVE format. Although this information is normally included in EMF’s Form 314 filings regarding a main studio rule waiver, it was not affixed with other documents presented to the Commission.

The unraveling of the license transfers to Cumulus of WKQX and WLUP officially began on Feb. 2, when a put-and-call agreement giving the company ownership of the stations was terminated.

Cumulus continued to operate the FM pair under an LMA, pending any transactions. To do so, Cumulus saw its monthly LMA fee reduced to $15,000, from $600,000, by a bankruptcy court judge’s order; this accounts for “reimbursement costs.” Concurrently, the judge approved a LMA extension to April 30, with options to extend the LMA to July 31 and October 31.