Lotus Grabs KFWB/Los Angeles In $11.2M Deal


One of Southern California’s most storied AM facilities has been acquired by Lotus Communications.

In a deal in which Kalil & Co. served as the exclusive broker, Universal Media Access KFWB-AM LLC has agreed to sell KFWB-AM 980 in Los Angeles to Lotus for $11.2 million.

KFWB presently airs a Bollywood-style Indian format on the facility as “Desi 980.” It debuted its mainly Hindi format on March 1.

California-based Lotus is headed by President/CEO Howard Kalmenson and First SVP Jim Kalmenson.

Jim Kalmenson tells RBR + TVBR that Lotus will not be keeping the Hindi format. “We’ve planned to make an announcement of our strategy and format on October 17,” he says.

Lotus’ current L.A.-market radio properties are comprised of one of the nation’s most successful ESPN Deportes Radio affiliates — Class B KWKW-AM 1330 in Los Angeles; Class B simulcast partner KTMZ-AM 1220 in Pomona, Calif.; and Farsi-language KIRN-AM 670 “Radio Iran,” a Class B licensed to Simi Valley, Calif., that is a highly profitable property for privately held Lotus.

Lotus also owns radio stations in Las Vegas, Tucson, Fresno, Bakersfield, Reno, and Sacramento, and owns two low-power television stations in Houston and Phoenix.

KFWB-AM operates at 980 kHz, with a 5kw nondirectional signal from one tower northeast of downtown L.A. The station signed on in 1925, launched by Sam Warner — a co-founder of Warner Bros.

KFWB would later launch the careers of entertainer Bing Crosby and one Ronald Reagan.

kfwb-logoIn 1958, KFWB would launch a Top 40 format that would make it one of the West Coast’s most popular rock ‘n’ roll stations. By the mid-1960s, with KRLA-AM 1110 and KHJ-AM 930 direct competitors with Top 40 formats, Westinghouse purchased KFWB. On March 11, 1968, KFWB abandoned its Top 40 format in favor of “all news, all the time” — taking a format proven successful at New York sibling WINS-AM 1010.

By the late 2000s, the station’s limited signal pattern and continued growth in Los Angeles’ suburban areas added to KFWB’s challenges to remain competitive.

In September 2009, CBS Radio placed the station in a trust headed by Diane Sutter due to ownership cap issues resulting from CBS’s purchase of KCAL-9. This led to a switch to Talk, and then Sports, until its switch to “Desi” earlier this year.

Kalil & Co., Inc. is the exclusive broker for this transaction.