Ann Arbor AM headed for new owner


Ronald Unkefer’s Ann Arbor First Ventures LP is selling 1600 Talk WAAM-AM to Coolarity A2 LLC, a company that will count it as the one and only station in its portfolio, and which will please FCC diversity personnel, since Coolarity’s principal will add to the ranks of female owners.

Coolarity’s principal is Linda Hughes, who also happens to be the station’s manager. She’ll pay $1.05M for the station. $400K of that will be deposited directly into an escrow account to be paid in cash at closing, and the rest will be covered by a $650K promissory note with a 36-month term.

The station is a Class B on 1600 kHz with 5 kW-U, DA2.

WAAM’s website decribes its current programming, saying, “Conservatives and Independents Rejoice! Local Ann Arbor Area and Southeast Michigan listeners have driven WAAM Talk 1600 ratings to their highest levels in years: up another 33% in the latest ratings period and up 166% over the past year. The addition of Glenn Beck, Lou Dobbs and Dennis Miller to regulars Laura Ingraham, Bill Bennett, Michael Savage and Ann Arbor’s own Thayrone have driven weekday ratings to some of the highest listener levels in over a decade. More and more locals are switching their listening to WAAM from Detroit stations for great programming and to support their local community. WAAM’s daily afternoon drive time talk show “On The Edge with Thayrone” has proven even more popular than several of the top national shows, and WAAM’s local news with Dan Martin combines with FOX NEWS every 30 minutes for the most relevant newscasts for the Ann Arbor and Southeast Michigan Area.”

Thayrone is a local musician who is not shy about voicing his conservative viewpoints, and who also happens to be married to the station manager and buyer.

Ann Arbor is one of those Arbitron markets that have the misfortune of existing in the shadow of a major media market, in this case Detroit. The handful of stations that consider Ann Arbor to be home are overwhelmed in the ratings there by big stations coming in from the big next door neighbor, and are of course unable to return the favor the other way around.

That notwithstanding, WAAM has held its value pretty well over the difficult past decade. Unkefer contracted to acquire it in July 2003 under the name Big D Broadcasting. The price back then was not too much more than the current one – $1.5M.