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Illinois Radio Network Acquired by State Entity

The Illinois News Network, a media arm of the Illinois Policy Institute, has acquired the Illinois Radio Network, which employs several present and past members of the INBA. The takeover happens on December 31, 2015, and terms have not been disclosed. The IRN name will be dropped, and the INN name will be used to represent work produced by reporters in Springfield and a small bureau in Chicago. That work is heard on more than 50 stations around the state, including WBBM-AM, KMOX-AM, WTAX-AM and WJBC-AM.

John Tillman, CEO of the Illinois Policy Institute, said in a news release: "We are thrilled to have Illinois Radio Network becoming a part of INN. Both organizations have a history of promoting transparency and accountability in government. And we look forward to continuing that fine tradition."

State Journal-Register reporter Bernard Schoenburg interviewed Mike Lawrence, who called this move unfortunate. “The Illinois Policy Institute ... is a group that has a very definite ideological agenda, and I would be surprised if it did anything else other than to advance that agenda through its newly acquired operation,” Lawrence said.  He is a longtime Statehouse reporter who is retired from being director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University.

Also from Schoenburg: "On its website, the policy institute says it seeks to educate "citizens, lawmakers and the courts to ensure all Illinoisans" have "honest, efficient and transparent government," "access to educational opportunities," "the right to earn a living," "economic policies that create jobs," "limited taxation" and "the ability to choose health coverage best suited to each individual's needs."

INN's website says that it “operates independently of the Illinois Policy Institute in terms of editorial decisions, coverage goals and day-to-day operations.”

IRN had been owned by Saga Communications, Inc. of Springfield, which owns the Capitol Radio Group.  INBA member Will Stevenson is News Director there.