Last week, Cumulus Media changed the call letters at a pair of AM radio stations it owns. One station is in Macon, Ga., while the other serves Amarillo, Tex., from its city of license, Canyon, Tex.
Now, the stations are gone. Why? Cumulus took a page from Beasley Media Group by deciding to simply stop operating the AMs.
With no explanation given, Cumulus has surrendered the licenses for Class D 1kw daytimer WRWM-AM 1500 — known as WAYS until late February — in Macon, Ga. and Class B KLSZ-AM 1550 — formerly KNSH — in Amarillo.
In doing so, Cumulus is also forfeiting its Construction Permits for unbuilt FM translators associated with each AM facility.
KLSZ had 1kw during daylight hours and 219 watts at night — and many identities since signing on the air as KVPH on May 8, 1962. In 2008, under the KZRK call letters, it aired a mix of Talk and Sports programming. It was silent from September-October 2012, and at the end of 2013 took on the KNSH call letters.
For WRWM, it had been known as “Sports Radio 1500 The Fan” and, prior to Sept. 2009, was an affiliate of the “True Oldies Channel.”
While Cumulus didn’t provide specific reasons for surrendering the stations’ licenses, one can easily surmise why the company did so. In the case of WRWM, it must cease operates during nighttime hours to protect Class A WFED-AM 1500 in Washington, D.C., a highly directional 50kw two-pattern facility once home to WTOP. While those at Dulles International Airport cannot clearly hear WFED at night, the signal stretches from South Florida to Montreal fairly easily. As such, WRWM was a relic in need of “AM revitalization” that didn’t arrive in time.
For KLSZ, the station as KNSH was largely silent under an STA for the last 22 months.
Given the limited appeal of such properties in 2020, it was likely wisest for Cumulus to simply turn in the licenses, and take an impairment charge on its Q1 2020 quarterly earnings.
It would follow a decision by Beasley to turn in the licenses of two Florida AMs and register an impairment charge on its Q4 2019 earnings report.
As RBR+TVBR reported on February 18, Beasley in Q4 ’19 saw its operating income, net income and net income per diluted share reflect a $17.1 million gain on land and tower sales and $13.7 million of non-cash impairment losses.
This is largely thanks to a decision by Beasley to sell 24.38 acres of land on the northeast corner of Nob Hill Road and Hillsboro Blvd. in Parkland, Fla. to the city, so it may develop a park. This parcel is home to the three broadcast towers that had been used for “Money Talk Radio”-branded WSBR-AM 740, licensed to nearby Boca Raton; and WHSR-AM 980, a Pompano Beach-licensed facility that had been airing brokered Haitian-language programming. Rather than sell the two stations, Beasley did its homework and went with the option that likely resulted in a bigger payday.
A Cumulus representative did not immediately respond to RBR+TVBR’s request for comment.