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Chicago’s 101.1 FM goes all news 24/7

Randy Michaels | AP

Randy Michaels | AP

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Updated: November 16, 2011 1:21AM

Chicago news radio just got more competitive.

Merlin Media, a New York-based company controlled by former Tribune CEO Randy Michaels and private equity firm GTCR, has launched FM News 101.1, WWWN-FM (formerly WKQX-FM, Q101).

“My favorite format has always been spoken radio,” Michaels said in a statement. “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.”

Merlin released the names of the station’s talent on Sunday. The roster includes Mary Ellen Geist, Ed Curran, Rob Hart, Dave Williams, Charlie Meyerson, Debra Dale, Sam Sylk and Jill Urchak.

“We’ve put together a stellar group of Chicago information news hosts, writers and producers,” said Andy Friedman, Merlin’s vice president of programming. “They will identify precisely the stories our listeners demand.”

This announcement comes piggybacked on the recent news that CBS Radio planned to drop its adult contemporary music format on WCFS-FM (105.9). Beginning Monday WBBM-AM (780) will simulcast it’s 24-news cycle on the channel.

Hopes are the simulcast will make WBBM easier to access in outlying suburbs and in downtown Chicago where the signal can be marred by tall buildings.

Merlin makes the claim to be Chicago’s “only 24-hour news station” citing the fact that WBBM also airs Bears games, simulcasts of “60 Minutes” and some late-night non-news programming.

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