In an announcement released late Tuesday (5/1), Urban One revealed that it has signed a definitive agreement to sell the assets of its 50kw Class B WPZR-FM 102.7 in Detroit to Educational Media Foundation for $12.7 million.
Could the media company focused on African American consumers consider selling other Gospel stations in its stable, in particular WPRS-FM 104.1 in Washington, D.C.? Would Educational Media Foundation make the perfect buyer, given its need for a full-market signal in the National Capital Area?
RBR+TVBR exclusively asked President/CEO Alfred Liggins III these questions, and got the answers.WPRS is a 20kw Class B facility licensed to Waldorf, Md.
Over the years, it has served as the primary signal for Top 40 and, later, Hot AC WWZZ-FM “Z104,” under Bonneville International ownership. It was also, before that, a ’70s and Oldies station known as WXTR-FM “Xtra 104.”
It was also previously the home of Classical WGMS, and an Adult Hits format branded as “George FM.”
But, its most current incarnation — as Gospel “Praise 104.1” — just may be its most successful, Liggins says.
Radio One launched Praise 104.1 11 years ago, and in March 2018 earned a 3.5 share of the total listening audience in Washington, D.C. That’s very respectable, as the signal no longer enjoys a simulcast with first-adjacent Class A WTLP-FM 103.9 in Frederick. As a result, Praise 104.1 is best-heard in Prince George’s County, Md., and the eastern portion of the District of Columbia. This makes Gospel a perfect fit for WPRS in 2018, as socioeconomic shifts seen since 1980 make this a heavily African American portion of the metro, of all income levels.
As such, Liggins says there is no plan to sell Praise 104.1.
“The stick value has to be higher than the amount of cash flow it is trading,” Liggins says. “In the case of Detroit, it was a great ability to move programming to translators. This opportunity would not exist in Washington, D.C., where Praise does exceptionally well. It makes a lot of money. It is the best station in the format with revenue. It is worth much more with the cash flow it has.”
The Praise brand can also be found on Gospel stations in Charlotte, Cleveland, Atlanta, Richmond, and in Houston via an HD multicast.
Liggins did not comment on the status of these stations.