A Trust Grab For iHeartMedia In a Controversial Market

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FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, in her first tenure at the agency, famously noted in a dissenting opinion on the end of the Commission’s Main Studio Rule that a lack of a locally based studio operation could lead to a failure in bringing pertinent emergency communication to the community for which it is licensed to serve.


The market Rosenworcel used as an example was Minot, S.D. The cluster of stations she used is owned by iHeartMedia, which at the time of a January 18, 2002, train disaster was known as Clear Channel Communications.

That cluster is now grabbing one of its own former stations it needed to put into the trust led by Barry Drake in order to comply with local ownership caps.

According to a Form 314 filing posted Monday (5/20) with the Commission, KRRZ-AM in Minot, S.D., branded as “Classic Hits 1390,” is exiting the Aloha Station Trust II.

It is heading back to a wholly reconstituted iHeart in a move that involves “the assignment of a broadcast station in the Minot-Bismarck-Dickinson (Williston), N.D. ADI to a third party.”

No details were offered in the filing as to what station this is, or who the proposed buyer is.

No cash consideration for KRRZ is being made.

KRRZ is a Class B facility, which uses 1 tower for 5kw during daylight hours and 1kw after dark.

KRRZ is one of 13 stations that were in the Trust as of October 2018, when Drake assumed control of it following the death of longtime administrator Jeanette Tully.

In 2002, it was fully operated by Clear Channel as part of a station group that has been repeatedly used by Rosenworcel as an example of why owning more stations isn’t necessarily a great idea for radio broadcast companies — or for public safety.

Along with former Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, Rosenworcel offered fiery dissent in a 3-2 losing vote that eliminated the FCC Main Studio Rule. For Rosenworcel, the key reason to vote against it was the 2002 Minot train disaster.

“Local radio failed the Minot community that night,” Rosenworcel said, noting that all Minot stations — namely those owned by iHeart predecessor Clear Channel — were airing “canned music and DJ banter piped in from somewhere far, far away. It was content that was anything but what residents needed to know.”

Rosenworcel also took aim at Republican claims that jobs will be created with the erasure of the regulation. She said, “Wiping out the Main Studio Rule will not solve the Minot or Beaumont problems. But, it will also not lead to more jobs.”

What will it do? It will “hollow out the unique role” broadcasters play in the local community,” Rosenworcel argued as she wrapped up her dissenting statement.