Conservatives gotta be grousing, bitterly, but Christian music and talk fans (and WPHT) are celebrating the news - WWIQ (106.9 FM) has been sold. And soon will find religion.
The Camden-licensed station has had more downs than ups in the two years since Merlin Media bought and transformed it to a news and information outlet.
At first there were grumblings the station would go gunning for KYW News Radio, then set its sights more on "The Big Talker" WPHT, with Larry Mendte co-anchoring the morning news.
Conservative pontificators Don Imus, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity and Mark Levin became WWIQ's prime counter-programming assets "Fighting for Freedom from the Fortress of Free Speech."
But given the history of Merlin chief Randy Michaels in "flipping" properties - recently selling WRXP New York to CBS Radio - it's not surprising he was willing to give up the ghosts so quickly.
New owners Education Media Foundation (EMF) is a non-profit broadcaster of contemporary Christian music and programming, with 700 radio stations and the top ranked K-LOVE and Air1 streaming radio channels on the internet service Tune-In, reports Radio Ink.com, which first detailed the sale on Wednesday.
EMF executive Mike Novak now says WWIQ will move quickly to the K-Love music format. "We are excited about getting into Philadelphia and giving back to the community. That's what we do all over the country, we give back."
The primo question now is whether WPHT (1210 AM) will take back the Big Time Rush - the nation's most-listened-to talk show host - to keep him audible in the 8th largest radio market. WPHT previously gave Limbaugh aid and comfort for ten years, before his contract expired and he jumped ship to join his conservative clansmen at WWIQ.