4/20. On this day 15 (!) years ago, I was fired by Q101. It was an HR disaster that dovetailed into professional and financial stress and perhaps a bit of depression, but that’s old news. I wrote about it in my book, if you’re curious.
There was no way of knowing it at the time, but it was for the best. All the career moves, pivots and changes I took since then allowed me to segue into a new career and position (at a company that ranks #6 on Fortune’s annual list of ‘Great Places to Work,’ no less). I’m happier in my post-radio world, and podcasting continues to scratch whatever radio “itch” I have.
As for Q101, it’s coming back after going off the air on 101.1 more than 10 years ago. Robert Feder announced that Cumulus Media bought the brand from Matt Dubiel, who acquired it back in 2011 when Emmis sold WKQX to Merlin Media.
The expectation is that Q101 will resurface at some point soon on the on-air and digital properties of what is 101 WKQX. Smart money says it will likely be around a station-branded event like AHOY or PIQNIQ.
I’ve been asked by a lot of people for my opinions on this development, and I think it’s unquestionably a smart move for Cumulus. While it’s true that Q101’s been off the air for 10 years, the agency people who buy radio are likely more familiar with that brand and would be more willing to hear an event pitch from “Q101” than “101 WKQX.”
Beyond that, let’s be honest… 12-24s just aren’t using radio the way they once did, and they never will again. When it comes to radio, I believe in the cliche “fish where the fish are.” It makes sense to go after listeners who still use radio in the car. 35-54 year olds in Chicago probably have memories or some degree of connection to the Q101 brand; if the “new” Q101 can make that group happy, they’ll be in a great position moving forward.
Programming a station in the spirit of Q101, and aligning it with the promise of what the alternative format can be, is an entirely different topic. All I’ll say to that is, “play IDLES, you cowards.”