High levels of radio activity

101.1Back on the beat after a short break and catching up on high levels of radio activity:

  • For the first time since July 15, 2011, alternative rock was heard Friday on WIQI FM 101.1 as Cumulus Media began simulcasting Merlin Media’s modern rock Q87.7 Underground Alternative. The move followed the announcement that Cumulus would acquire WIQI and classic rock WLUP FM 97.9 after operating the stations under a local marketing agreement. Insiders described the transition from Merlin to Cumulus so far as “smooth, cordial and collaborative.” The simulcast is expected to continue for 30 to 45 days, after which WLFM LP 87.7 will drop the format.
  • Alex Quigley, assistant program director at WGN AM 720, has been promoted to operations manager of the Tribune Broadcasting news/talk station. “This is a recognition of Alex’s role in our expanding future,” Todd Manley, vice president of creative content at WGN, told staffers Friday. “He’ll be mentoring producers and searching for new talent that builds our farm system, coordinating special programming, scheduling, digging deep on ratings analysis, and dreaming big dreams.” Quigley, 35, a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign, joined WGN in 2010 after working on the air and in various roles at WKQX FM 101.1.
  • After 10 years at country WUSN FM 99.5, afternoon personality Drew Walker is shifting to middays. He succeeds Trish Biondo, whose contract was not renewed after 27 years at the CBS Radio station. “I’m really excited for the new opportunities and thrilled to continue working with the US 99.5 team at a job I love,” Walker said. “Being home for dinner with the kids is a great perk too!” Program director Jeff Kapugi said weekend host Ryan McKiddy will fill in during afternoons until a permanent replacement is named.
  • Brian Middleton is out after seven years at adult contemporary WILV FM 100.3, where he most recently hosted afternoons. Although a memo from Hubbard Radio management said he would be shifting to “a part time/swing role,” Middleton told friends on Facebook he was no longer with the station. Cara Carriveau moves up from evenings to afternoons until a permanent afternoon personality is named. Before joining “Chicago’s 100.3” in 2007, Middleton hosted middays for 10 years on CBS Radio Top 40 WBBM FM 96.3.
  • Milt Rosenberg, whose 39-year run as “Extension 720” host was cut short in 2012 by the numbskulls who ran WGN into the ground, is busy as ever. Since last May he’s been podcasting two new shows a week on MiltRosenberg.com. And now the 88-year-old Rosenberg just launched a subscription paywall for access to his archive of “Extension 720” shows. “We have a decent stable of shows already posted, and will probably post more than five a week for the first month just to get a good base going,” said executive producer Zack Christenson, who served as “Extension 720” producer from 2007 to 2010. Access to the archive costs $5 a month or $45 year.
  • Carl Grapentine returns Monday as morning host at classical WFMT FM 98.7 after a four-week absence while recovering from surgery for a ruptured quadriceps tendon. He sustained the injury in a slip and fall on Dec. 14. “I can’t drive for another month due to the leg immobilizing brace, but we’re working out transportation,” he said. “It’ll be good to be back!” Except for a six-year stint at the former WNIB, Grapentine has been hosting mornings on Window to the World Communications’ WFMT since 1986.