After several days of rumors, change has indeed come to Clear Channel's WNUA/Chicago, which dropped smooth jazz after 22 years and flipped to what is being billed as "Spanish Hot AC" as "Mega 95.5."

The news broke late Thursday night (May 21) in Phil Rosenthal's column in the Chicago Tribune. WNUA's lengthy and groundbreaking smooth jazz era came to an end today (May 22) after syndicated personality/renowned jazz pianist Ramsey Lewis signed off late in the 9 AM hour. Following a brief audio montage that paid tribute to WNUA's heritage, the switch happened at the frequency-related time of 9:55 AM, where the new Mega brand will be introduced by rolling into 5,000 songs in a row.

According to CC/Chicago VP of programming and operations Tony Coles, this decision was not easily arrived at: "This is something we really struggled with," Coles told the Tribune. "We're fans of WNUA. So it was really tough to even have conversations about the end of that radio station. But we looked at all the indicators. We really put a lot of time and energy and research and marketing and everything for that radio station, and the needle wasn't moving -- and then the economy started going south as well." Those thoughts were echoed by his boss Earl Jones, CC/Chicago president/market manager: "The revenue support for WNUA declined significantly in recent years due to the changes in how advertisers evaluate radio stations, and we were faced with a very difficult decision," Jones remarked.

The format flip means hiring about 25 new bilingual employees, including a program director, air talent, and a sales staff. Ironically, both the old and new WNUA formats will end up co-existing online: Mega is available at mega955.com, while smooth jazz fans can still enjoy the format at yoursmoothjazz.com, as well as on Clear Channel's iheartradio app for iPhones and BlackBerrys and on 95.5's HD2 channel.

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