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Merlin Media Releases Pete McMurray

Merlin Media, the radio corporation that is said to be on life-support and busy looking for buyers, has released yet another staffer. Insiders are saying that longtime morning show host Pete McMurray has been released from the company right after ending his morning show today.

Since August, Pete McMurray has been the morning host on WIQI-FM, currently known as i101. (A move that was exclusively reported HERE.) Prior to that, McMurray was the morning show host on WLUP-FM for the last 5.5 years, until he was removed at the end of July to make room for Maxwell, a crony hire of Merlin Media CEO Randy Michaels and Operations Manager Jim Richards. (Another move that was first exclusively reported HERE.)

Pete McMurray has worked at WLUP-FM twice in his long Chicago radio career. He first did mornings at The Loop from 2001-2003. His most recent stint with the began in January 2007, with him taking over mornings in April 2010. McMurray also has been on 101.1 FM twice, as he was was previously heard on there contributing prerecorded sports reports to the morning and afternoon newscasts on FM News 101.1 for most of this year, in addition to working his (then) morning show on The Loop. Additionally, McMurray twice worked at Chicago's WCKG-FM, from 1998-2001 and again from 2003-2005.

McMurray came to Chicago from Rockford's WXRX-FM, where from 1993-1998, he was the station's highest-ever rated morning show and one of the most popular morning radio personalities ever in that market.

A multimedia talent, McMurray also works as a host and reporter for the television show "24/7 Chicago," which airs late Saturday night/early Sunday morning on WMAQ-TV. He has worked with that TV program for four years. Since 2006, McMurray has served as the Director of Media for SK Intertainment, Inc., the parent company of the top Chicago-based website, MrSkin.com.

McMurray is on location this morning shooting a segment for "24/7 Chicago," but was able to send out this simple message via Twitter today: "So... We move on. Thanks for listening everyone. Back on radio soon."

He also emailed out this note to fans today: "I had a fantastic run at the Loop. We accomplished some great ratings increases over the past couple of years. Unfortunately you can't control the owners and what direction they want to take."

There is no definitive word yet on what role, if any, Pete McMurray's co-host Jane Monzures will continue to have with the radio station or company.

This is the second major on-air firing from Merlin Media's Chicago stations in less than a week. Late last week, afternoon host Shark was released from WKQX-LP/Q87.7. In typical Randy Michaels/Merlin Media fashion, Operations Manager Jim Richards today denied that Shark was released, claiming only that his hours had been cut. Of course, that was leaving out the fact that the hours were cut to zero, effective immediately, and that Shark was wished a fond farewell at that point last week. Merlin Media also denied that Pete McMurray was taking over mornings at i101 (McMurray did just that three weeks later) and that their stations were for sale (Merlin Media sold WRXP-FM to CBS Radio for $75 million less than two weeks later). Denials from Merlin Media executives hold little weight.

Updated 11:45pm with additional details.

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