In a bold, if not unexpected maneuver, WFAN will make the leap to FM in November. The New York Times columnist Richard Sandomir broke the news via Twitter today.
FishbowlNY first told you about the factors weighing in CBS Radio’s favor to create a WFAN-FM. We speculated that WFAN would be moved “in-house” to either 102.7 FM, home of Fresh 102.7 or NOW FM 92.3. However, CBS Radio has confirmed its acquisition of Merlin Media’s ill-fated 101.9/WRXP for the purchase price of $75 million.
CBS Radio said in a statement that WFAN will remain on 660 AM with a simulcast on 101.9.
We have the memo from Merlin CEO Randy Michaels to staffers after the jump.
In a memo to staffers, Michaels wrote, according to All Access,
Rumors about Merlin have been rampant. Today we are announcing the sale of WRXP/New York. Many talented people have worked hard to create a terrific Alternative station, but our obligation to retire significant debt necessitates this decision. Thanks to everyone for your hard work with New Rock 101.9. The formats initial success made the decision very difficult.
There is a very positive impact of this sale on our balance sheet. This change allows us to increase focus on operating a successful company. Merlin is not for sale, and is looking at possible additions to our portfolio. Let’s focus building the Chicago and Philadelphia stations into great, profitable brands and great places to work.
“This is an extremely exciting opportunity to expand our radio presence in the nation’s largest market,” said Dan Mason, President and CEO, CBS Radio. “Sports is a very popular format and a huge growth category for our business. As a result of this new asset, we look forward to The FAN building on its position as the leading sports radio franchise in the country.”
In July, WFAN celebrated its 25th anniversary. The nation’s first all-sports radio station got its 50,000-watt signal at 660 on October 7, 1988.
Earlier this year, ESPN was first to take a AM sports station to FM, when WEPN jumped from 1050 to 98.7.