Q101 Alternative

Q101, Everything Alternative | Music, Videos, Interviews



The company that owned 101.1 FM (Emmis) sold the radio station to a new company.  The new company never intended to keep Alternative music on the air on 101.1.  Since we knew this, we offered to buy “Q101″ from Emmis, before they sold 101.1 to the new company.  We (Chicago-based radio syndication company Broadcast Barter Radio Networks) purchased everything except the FCC license and the broadcasting equipment (everything meaning the Q101 brand name, the likeness, the online property, all the website’s content and more).  The other company bought the FCC license and broadcasting equipment, and paid over $100 million for 101.1 FM, WLUP, and WRXP in New York.  They made the decision to change the format of 101.1 FM from Alternative to News and let the entire air staff go.  We then purchased the “Q101″ brand from Emmis in an effort to keep it alive, to broadcast online as an internet radio broadcaster with more choices and more ways for you to get the music you love. The thought to return it to the airwaves was always there but the costs are prohibitive for us so we’re keeping it all alive here.

UPDATE: After failure of the news format on 101.1, the company ‘rented’ 87.7 to put ‘alternative’ on there. They then played around [for a while] with 101.1 FM morphing its format to its final destination which became i101 [or something like that]. We in fact found some people enjoyed that 90’s based pop/dance hodgepodge of a format. EDM America TV added the iParty 101 channel to serve those fans who lost what they were just starting to enjoy. The company that bought 101.1 and the other stations ran into financial trouble and had to bail, Cumulus came to ‘post the bail’ and now runs 101.1, WLS AM & FM as well as WLUP here in Chicago. Nothing they do has anything to do with us.


Emmis used to be a private company.  Like many radio companies, they began to grow.  They bought more stations and then went public.  Like many public companies, they found going public isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.  Their stations became corporate.  They tried to go back to being private.  That fell through.  In order to go private, or be a profitable public company, they needed to shore up their balance sheet.  One way to do this was to sell some stations and make some cash to pay some bills.  They decided to sell 101.1 FM, WLUP, and WRXP to do this.


In order to get Q101 back, you need to know ultimately why it is gone.  The nuts and bolts are explained above, but there’s a little more to it.  Radio stations get killed all the time.  In the business they “flip” stations.  It’s not unlike flipping a house, you gut it and fix it up.  When you flip a station though, you don’t always sell it.

Q101 is unique though.  Over 20 years, this station became a  “brand” like HBO, Kraft, or Honda.  The Q101 brand stands for something.  It stands for a generation.  Actually, it stands for a couple of generations.  We’ll get into that later though.

Q101 is a radio station, but it’s much more.  The audience ratings for Q101 for it’s last month on the air were over 1.2 Million listeners.  That means if Q101 was a magazine or newspaper, 1.2 million people got it each week.  The station also billed $13-17 Million dollars a year.  These numbers are rock solid.  Many broadcasters would have killed for these numbers.

So like many stations that get “flipped”…Q101 was not a failure, it just wasn’t making the amount of money that Emmis needed it to make – again, they were loaded in debt and overpaid for a great many things through the years (slow down in the economy, lower ad rates etc.) and like many corporate radio stations, had to sell and do things to service the ‘debt’. In other words, it was time to pay the piper. Bad management, unreasonable expectations of revenues and other factors cause these to happen. In the end, it ultimately cost you, the listener with the loss of a part of your youth, your years of listening to Q101. It was taken from you for no apparent reason other than mistakes made in judgement by those who bought it. That suitor had to then pay for their bad moves by ultimately selling it and their other ‘bad moves’.

Ever heard the phrase “one man’s junk is another man’s treasure?”  Well for a company that is constantly facing issues with being de-listed by NASDAQ because their stock price is too low, getting rid of your Chicago stations makes a lot of business sense.  It isn’t junk by any means, but it wasn’t making $40+ million a year like other stations in Chicago (WGN, WBBM-AM, etc.)

The reality is simple:  Radio stations that target younger people have perception struggles.  Rock stations have perception struggles.  The perception in the advertising community is that young rock audiences are fickle.  “They” say the “younger demographic” has no buying power.  They think the “younger” demographic is flaky, that there’s no “money” in that age group nor are they an an ideal audience to sell products to. We here at Q101.com and you know this is not true, but it’s the perception.

Now that Q101 is gone from 101.1 FM, people are taking to the web and posting on various platforms how they miss Q101.  The stations who stay alive, and continue to fight off these perceptions are the stations who can consistently display the power of their reach.  The top two stations that come to mind are 103.5 Kiss FM and B96 in Chicago.  These two stations face the same issues as Q101.  They fight this perception by KILLING it in social media, and by KILLING it with advertiser support.

What do we need to do to “KILL IT”?  Here’s what we need to do:

  1. Visit http://www.Q101.com every day to keep the traffic high
  2. “Like” https://www.facebook.com/Q101Chicago on Facebook so we can reach 101,000 Fans
  3. Listen to us through our apps and here on our website
  4. Download the FREE App for Apple, Android, or Blackberry and listen anywhere!
  5. Email, Facebook, and Tweet all of your friends and ask them to join us.  A GREAT way to do this is at http://share.Q101.com  Do it, do it now!
  6. Support our sponsors (if you support them, they know Q101 works and they stay with us)

This is not a magic bullet.  This will not happen over night.  Two things will happen though:  Our community and the Q101 experience will grow, and Chicago radio will take notice (we will pursue this).  We will not be able to get Q101 on the radio without executing the above.  If we do assemble en mass, we still may not get Q101 on the “radio”….but there will soon come a time when that won’t matter and we’ll be perfectly happy here keeping it ONLINE and going. Today, ‘radio’ is not your only ‘choice’. In fact, we hope you’ll make the ‘SWITCH’ to Q101.com where you get more alternatives. Today, there is AM, there is FM and now there’s the INTERNET. We broadcast on the internet.


We have reached out to nearly every member of Q101’s staff air staff, and many former staffers…even some former promotions and sales folks!  Some are very passionate about Chicago and Q101.  Most are not as passionate about Q101 as you are.  You have to remember, they were hired guns.  They were employees.  The minute they didn’t have a job, they needed to find a job.  Some of them have moved on to other radio jobs in other markets.  The show must go on.  Some of them are undoubtedly thinking of getting out of radio.  Some of them had day jobs too.  Quite frankly:  Some, perhaps, were caught off-guard by the developments of the Emmis sale and it seems to have cast a pall over us, too.  We’ve been there.  We’ve been hastily thrown to the curb by giant radio companies.  We feel their pain.  We have publicly and privately made it known, and will do it here yet again:  Our door is always open to anyone who wants to partake in Q101.  If not, we wish everyone well and will look to bring in positive, fun-loving, and passionate people who want to have a good time and do good work.

The long and the short of it is, these DJs and the ones before them became a part of your life because they were on Q101.  Q101 will work to bring that fun, humor, art and connection back into the experience for you, from the best talent we can find!


Your favorite Q101 Events will live if we can raise the funds to do them. We will have Jamboree again!  We will have Twisted again!  We will have the Block Party again!  We will work tirelessly to provide YOU with the best events in Chicago if the funds can be raised for them.


Local 101 has been a part of Q101 since it changed from a ‘Hot AC’ station that was one of the highest ranked in Chicago throughout the 80’s featuring “Murphy In The Morning”. The year was 1992 and the ‘Switch’ was made to the Alternative format. Local 101 is a staple for Q101 and Chicago and we have been having myriad conversations about it with performers, venues, promoters, and journalists about rekindling it.  We are hopeful there are developments in the Local 101 area to announce very soon!   We can’t do it alone, though, and want Local 101 to be an inclusive, insightful, and a place where local talent can be heard.


You can listen to all of our great channels when from our website when you visit the MUSIC CHANNELS section.

Also, today, smartphones let you listen in your car, or anywhere in the world!  Download the FREE App for Apple or, for all other smartphones including ANDROID, Tablets, Blackberry, Windows phones, use the TuneIn app – just search Q101.com and you’ll find ALL of our channels.

Some people are using Roku boxes to listen, XBOX, Playstation, Wii as well as Sonos and other kind of units.

We’ll post new and exciting ways to listen HERE.


Our limited edition t-shirt can be found HERE.



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