Merlin Media to take over Q101, The Loop, WRXP early

Remember when Merlin Media purchased a majority stake in WLUP-FM, WKQX-FM (Q101), and New York’s WRXP-FM from Emmis Communications and said it would take weeks for them to  take over all three outlets, perhaps as  soon as mid-August.

Well, scrap that: those changes now take place this week.

Merlin announced today it will take over the operations of all three stations via a local marketing agreement on Friday, which means the Alternative/Modern Rock format will be exiting Q101 and WRXP earlier than planned. Both stations are expected to flip to a news/talk format on Friday. No word yet on who the personalities will be for either station.

With the announcement, the entire on-air staff at both stations have been released from their contracts as of Thursday. Out at Q101 are morning personalities Brian Sherman & Steve Tingle; midday personality Christine “Electra” Pawlak; night jock Tim Pogo; afternooner Tim Virgin; and various fill-in and weekend jocks.

The move also marks the end of the Alternative/Modern Rock format at Q101 after 19 years and the end of the Q101 monkier after more than 30 years.

Meanwhile, there are no changes planned for The Loop, which for now remains Merlin Media’s sole music outlet.

With the departure of Q101 and WRXP, Alternative/Modern Rock loses two of the top three markets and the number count reporting to Mediabase drops to 68, a blow for an already struggling format.