Published on Tuesday, 12 July 2011 21:00
WKQX-FM, the station fans have known as Q101 since the mid-80's, comes to the end of its life this Thursday at the stroke of Midnight. The last man on the air saying the final farewell will be Q101's Chris Payne, the station's Local Music Director and host of the long-running program, "Local 101." The local Chicago music showcase is normally heard on Sunday nights, but with no more weekends left for Q101, a very special episode of "Local 101" will air Thursday.
The special episode will be a look back at the local Chicago rock artists that Q101 has helped shine a spotlight on over the last 19 years that "Local 101" has been around. Chicago artists such as Fall Out Boy, Smashing Pumpkins, Disturbed, Local H, Kill Hannah, Chevelle, Rise Against, and many others have credited "Local 101" and Q101 for giving them the early exposure they needed to break big nationally.
One of the biggest losses coming from the end of Q101 is the loss of "Local 101." Chris Payne has brilliantly hosted the program on WKQX-FM since November 1998, taking over from the previous brilliant host, James VanOsdol. Through many years, "Local 101" has consistently been the premiere local alternative rock program. With radio becoming more and more nationalized, local music programs have become almost extinction on Chicago's radio airwaves. Outside of WXRT-FM's "Local Anesthetic" and a few programs on low-powered public & college stations, getting exposure to up and coming local artists will be a much more difficult thing to do on the radio.
The final "Local 101," which will also be the very final show of Q101's existence, begins at 11:00pm on Thursday, ending one hour later at Midnight. It will be up to Chris Payne to say the last good-byes of the station. Payne, who also happens to be an entertainment lawyer during the week, is very well-spoken ashould deliver the last words with class and grace.
All throughout the day on Thursday, the entire on air staff will be saying their farewells to fans and playing favorite songs, many of which have not been heard on the station for a very long time, due to restrictive, and sometimes frustrating, programming over the last few years by the station's soon-to-be former owner, Emmis Communications. There will be special guests and bittersweet "thank yous" happening throughout the day Thursday.
Gone after Thursday will be Q101 DJs Brian Sherman, Steve Tingle, Christine "Electra" Pawlak, Tim Virgin, Tim Pogo, Chris "Payne" Miller and other weekenders. Most Q101 staffers are also exiting the station this week.
In many respects, it is an end of an era on Chicago radio, with the loss of the last modern rock station.
WKQX-FM is expected to to change to an exciting new News/Talk format next week. The change will not begin immediately at Midnight on Thursday, however. From 12:01am early Friday morning, until the new station is ready to launch early next week, WKQX-FM will be "stunting." What will be heard over the weekend is not yet known, but based on the track record of Randy Michaels, the CEO of Merlin Media, LLC, WKQX-FM's new operator, it will certainly draw some attention.
It is also likely that later this year, WKQX-FM will change its call letters to new ones that fit the image of the new station better. Chicago's 101.1 FM has had the WKQX call letters since 1977, when it first became a rock formatted station. Prior to that, the FM station had used the call letters WMAQ, WJOI, and WNIS.