Erich Mancow Muller, morning host on WLUP FM 97.9 and one of Chicago’s best-known radio personalities, is suddenly a man without a contract.
Cumulus Media, which operates the classic rock station, pulled the plug last week on its talent agreement with Muller’s company, American Patriot LLC, according to a filing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York.
But for now it’s business as usual as “The Mancow Morning Show” continues to air from 5:30 to 9:30 a.m. weekdays on The Loop.
As reported here Friday, Atlanta-based Cumulus also withdrew from deals to acquire The Loop and alternative rock WKQX FM 101.1, and to broadcast White Sox baseball and Bulls basketball on news/talk WLS AM 890. The moves were all part of the company’s efforts to emerge from bankruptcy by shedding unprofitable contracts and big-money talent agreements.
Muller said he believes Cumulus eventually will come to terms with Merlin Media, which owns The Loop and 101 WKQX, and he’ll get a new contract. “I predict that when the smoke clears nothing will change and I’ll be with Cumulus,” he said in an interview Monday. “I have no inside information. It’s just a prediction.”
Regardless of how it works out, Muller insists he isn’t worried.
“If it all ends tomorrow, I’ll be fine,” he said. “I consider this time at The Loop a victory lap. I was done with radio. The only reason I came back to radio [in 2015] was the power of that station — The Loop. It means something as a radio geek. If it doesn’t work out I’ll be fine. If it does work out, even better.”
Randy Michaels, the former Tribune Co. CEO who heads Merlin Media, told the Chicago Tribune’s Robert Channick he’s ready to step in and operate The Loop and 101 WKQX if Cumulus bails out. That’s perfectly OK with Muller, too.
“It’s fine with me if Randy Michaels takes over,” Muller said. “People who don’t like him don’t like him because he’s not politically correct. Well, I’m not politically correct. I’ll have no problem working with that guy.”
Muller said he has admired Michaels since the controversial executive headed Jacor Communications, the radio company once owned by Chicago billionaire Sam Zell.
“I base my stunts and everything else off Jacor,” he said. “My whole goal when I got into radio was to work for Jacor. Randy and I have talked about working together. So I have a great relationship with Randy Michaels. He’s an innovator. He loves radio. I love radio. There wouldn’t be any problem between me and Randy Michaels.”
Monday’s best comment: Dan Miller: Ever an insightful student of media and society, Charles Thomas made a compelling point on Joel [Weisman]’s farewell show about how seldom guests from black media are invited. But skimpy diversity on Week in Review also is evident in other media. Chicago has a vibrant and well informed cohort in trade journalism that seldom is invited to Week in Review. Staffers from Pensions & Investments and Modern Healthcare, two Crain publications, could add depth and breadth to Week in Review, and make it even more informative. The program is being reimagined in the wake of Joel’s well earned retirement, and as a WTTW subscriber and Week in Review viewer, I urge the station to broaden the program’s vision.