Merlin Media, the media company created through a joint venture between GTCR in partnership with Emmis Communications, will launch FM News 101.1 in Chicago, the city’s only 24-hour news station. Merlin recently brought on board Tribune vet Randy Michaels to lead the entity as CEO.
NEW YORK, July 31, 2011 — Merlin Media, a new multiplatform, multimedia company, today launched FM News 101.1 as Chicago’s only 24-hour all-news station.
Whenever listeners tune in to Chicago’s FM News 101.1 they will experience credible news, jargon-free traffic reports, and accurate weather. Listeners will engage with information from leading experts on subjects such as health, family, career, money, entertainment, beauty and more. The station’s terrific content will be accessible through many platforms including online video, social media, mobile, and tablets. Advertisers will become part of a highly effective mix that includes sponsorships, billboards, endorsements, Internet, mobile, tablets, and live reads.
“My favorite format has always been spoken radio,” said Randy Michaels, CEO, Merlin Media. “I’ve long had a nostalgic love affair with the big AM stations known for the format, and today – as music moves to the iPod – it’s time for spoken word to move to FM. I’m proud to be part of Chicago’s only 24-hour all-news station.”
Walter Sabo, COO, Merlin Media added: “Busy adults have told us they need their information on FM, online, and through social media. Our team is prepared to serve them with unparalleled content on every stage.”
“We’ve put together a stellar group of Chicago information news hosts, writers and producers,” said Andy Friedman, VP of Programming, Merlin Media. “They will identify precisely the stories our listeners demand.”
Assembled by Merlin Media’s team of veteran executives who have deep experience in companies like Harpo Productions and Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, FM News 101.1’s content will be delivered by some of the best talent in the business, including:
• Mary Ellen Geist is an award-winning broadcast journalist having worked at ABC and CBS radio stations. Geist’s many honors include national and regional Edward R. Murrow Awards and Associated Press Awards for best newscast, live coverage, investigative reporting, and Reporter of the Year.
• Ed Curran is a veteran of Chicago media, having been on-air since the mid-‘70s at WEFA-FM, WGCI-FM, WIND-AM, and WGN-AM, where he worked alongside Bob Collins and co-hosted “The Al & Ed Show” with Al Lerner.
• Rob Hart has been a news anchor, reporter, and talk show host over the course of his career at two famous radio stations – WTMJ in Milwaukee and WGN in Chicago. He first went on-air as a sophomore at Marquette University.
• Dave Williams is an award-winning anchor who has received multiple Golden Mike and Mark Twain awards as Best News Anchor in a Major Market. For 20 years at Sacramento’s KFBK, he was the highest-rated radio personality in the city’s history.
• JoAnn Genette has consistently worked in Chicago radio, most recently hosting her own radio talk show. Her big break was a co-host and news reporting role with Chicago radio legend Robert Murphy.
• Monica DeSantis has been in radio for 18 years, most notably as a morning anchor at WLS-AM and several other Chicago news and sports stations. The longtime Chicagoan hails originally from Toronto, Canada.
• Brett Larson is an Emmy® Award winner and one of the nation’s most familiar names in technology and environmental coverage. Larson is a recognized voice on the radio from coast-to-coast.
• Charlie Meyerson has delivered the news to the Chicago area for several decades having spent time at WXRT-FM, WNUA-FM, and ChicagoTribune.com. Meyerson is the winner of dozens of journalism awards, including a national UPI award for investigative reporting.
• Annette Flournoy is a Chicago native, having previously served as the News Director and afternoon news anchor of WVON-AM. Flournoy has worked as an award-winning Associate Producer of “Oprah & Friends” with Harpo Radio.
• Lise Dominique has worked with some of the best on-air talents in Chicago radio as a traffic reporter and newsperson on WLUP-AM/FM with Jonathan Brandmeier, Kevin Matthews, Steve Dahl and Garry Meier, as well as on WTMX-FM with Ron Britain and Brant Miller.
• Diana Bodkins is a household name outside of Chicago, having worked as a morning show producer at WFYR-FM and program director for WLS-AM and WLS-FM. Bodkins will play a key role as a programmer at FM News 101.1.
• Scott Miller is a top-rated morning show host who worked as a producer for Harpo Radio since its inception, most notably for the “Gayle King Show” on XM radio. He also worked as a producer for WCKG-FM.
• Debra Dale has been a Chicago radio stalwart for the past 25 years, having worked for WBBM-AM since 1992 as a traffic reporter and as a news reporter and anchor. Prior to that, she spent six years with WUSN-FM.
• Sam Sylk is a radio veteran and Chicago-native, beginning his career on WKKC-FM in the early ‘90s. Sylk worked on WGCI-FM as an afternoon host and in 2009 began working his “Sylky Style” on the afternoon drive shift on WPWX-FM.
• Ryan Burrow recently worked as Online National News Producer for the Tribune Co. and has served as a radio reporter at Clear Channel, NewsRadio 600 WREC, and WFVA/WBQB. The Chicago native will take his skill set to the streets as a reporter for FM News 101.1.
• Jeff McKinney was the news anchor for WCCO-AM in Minneapolis, Minnesota for nearly 16 years.
• Guy Bauer worked on Comedy Central’s famous “Crank Yankers” and with Jimmy Kimmel and Adam Carolla on “The Man Show.” Bauer became Executive Producer of Jonathon Brandmeier’s morning show on L.A.’s KCBS-FM in 2004, and moved to WLUP-FM/Chicago in 2005. Bauer also hosts “The Guy Bauer Half Hour,” which was featured in Time Magazine.
• Veronica Carter is known by late-night listeners as a deft news reporter and weekend anchor on WGN-AM’s overnight show. In that capacity, the California native worked alongside Steve King and Johnnie Putman.
• Sarah Jersild is a writer, blogger, and podcaster for a number of well-known online outlets. She was a Senior Producer for Tribune Broadcasting and will cover entertainment news.
• Victoria Keelan has spent the last five years on Sirius XM’s Cosmo Radio, bringing audiences the latest and hottest trends in the world of fashion, beauty, lifestyle, and food on “Cosmo Life with Victoria.”
• Anne Kelly has worked as a reporter for WCIA-TV in Illinois and KFYR-TV in North Dakota. The young talent will be the northwest suburbs bureau chief for FM News 101.1.
• Katherine Kelly will be the western suburbs bureau chief for FM News 101.1. She has worked as a producer and operations manager at Harpo Radio, and was a morning news anchor and producer for WUSN-FM.
• Brant Miller spent 15 years as one of Chicago’s top DJ’s on WLS-AM and then WLS-FM. In 1989, Miller became a meteorologist with WFLD-TV, later serving as WMAQ-TV’s Chief Meteorologist.
• Jennifer O’Neill is a Chicago native who began her career in 1999 as a producer and writer for WBBM-AM.
• Art Porter is an experienced Chicago radio producer, having worked on morning shows for WVAZ-FM and WGCI-FM. Porter produced Crazy Howard McGee’s well-known morning show and the “Morning Riot” show.
• Jill Urchak is a popular Chicago-based news and traffic reporter having worked on WLS-AM and WLS-FM. She was also a DJ on WABT-FM.
• Mike Wilson began his career as one of the youngest producers in Chicago at WLS radio. He comes to FM News 101.1 as a respected news reporter from WOWO-AM and will now do overnights.
About Merlin Media LLC
Merlin Media LLC (www.merlinmediallc.com) was formed in June 2011 by leading private equity firm GTCR in partnership with Emmis Communications (NasdaqGS: EMMS), a diversified media company, and Randy Michaels for the purpose of acquiring and operating media assets. The company begins with a base of three properties – two in Chicago and one in New York – and intends to develop a combination of media across the country.