WLUP-FM 'The Loop' sold to Christian music broadcaster Educational Media Foundation

CHICAGO (WLS) -- It's the end of an era for rock fans in Chicago, as 97.9 The Loop has been sold to a Christian broadcaster in California.

The Loop studio was empty Tuesday night. Automated rock and roll plays for a couple more days, but the people who made up Chicago's iconic rock radio station are packing up and leaving the building.

"The Loop got sold. It's becoming a Christian station," Steve Dahl told listeners Tuesday.

The new non-profit owners Educational Media Foundation own 600 stations and are known for contemporary Christian music.

One of the legendary voices of the Loop in its heyday, Steve Dahl is on the air at WLS-AM just down the hall.

"From the moment I got into town that's the station I wanted to be on and the station that made me what I am today," said Dahl.

Dahl said one of his favorite memories of his time at the Loop was the legendary Disco Demolition Night at the old Comiskey Park in 1979. Chaos ensued after they blew up disco records on the field, forcing the Sox to cancel the second game of their double header.

"It took the Loop to bring down Disco, and it took God to bring down the Loop," said Dahl.

That's because the Loop is being sold to a Christian music station which will operate as a not-for-profit to be called K-Love. But memories of the iconic Loop brand and catchy advertising campaigns linger.

Bill Leff, a former Loop employee now with WGN said on the air, "Almost every kid had a Loop t-shirt with the logo."

"If you grew up in Chicago in the 70's or 80's the Loop was part of the fabric of what defined you. You listened to the Loop or you weren't hip," said Ramblin Ray Stevens, a WLS-AM DJ.

The end of the Loop is a huge topic of conversation on the radio Tuesday.

"I grew up listening to the Loop. I grew up working at the Loop; it was my first radio job and I was shocked. I think there are lot of people who are going to be disappointed. It was in our hearts, our souls," said Wendy Snyder, a former Loop DJ.

The deal is worth a reported $21.5 million. The Loop was launched in 1977 and scored its highest ratings in 1979.

The Loop is still playing music this week, but without DJs. The new format is expected to take over on Saturday morning.
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