Almost a year after flipping the former Emmis Modern Rockers in New York and Chicago to FM News, Merlin Media has flipped both stations back to music. WEMP (FM News 101.9)/New York brings back the Modern Rock format to the Big Apple as "New Rock 101.9." (The station was previously WRXP under Emmis.) Meanwhile, WIQI/Chicago flips to Adult Hits as "i101." The frequency was the former home of longtime Windy City Modern Rocker Q101. Earlier this year, Merlin brought Modern Rock back to Chicago after it acquired the 87.7 frequency and launched Q87.7.
Merlin CEO Randy Michaels said in an announcement, "Effective immediately, Alternative is back on the air in New York as New Rock 101.9 and Adult Hits are on the air in Chicago as i101. It was a difficult decision to make, but after a year of minimal audience engagement, coupled with the formatís inherent expense, I felt it was time to make a change.. Iíd like to thank the people who poured their heart and soul into the effort and I wish them all the best."
"After a year without Alternative in New York, I expect to see the audience rapidly embrace New Rock 101.9," added Jim Richards, WEMP/WIQI Interim OM. "The market is wide open and the listeners are passionate for this type of music. Chicago's current competitive market matrix creates an incredible opportunity for Adult Hits and i101 is the ideal weapon for the battle."
Following the high-profile acquisition of both stations from Emmis last year, and launch of the FM News format, the two stations struggled in the ratings. In the June PPM Arbitron ratings, WEMP had a 0.6 share for Persons 6+, the same rating it had stood at for three months in a row. In Chicago, WIQI had a 0.3 rating for Persons 6+ last month, and hovered in the 0.3-0.4 range in recent months.