RBR-TVBR Analysis: Anatomy of a Washington State radio mash-up


Two of the strongest radio clusters in two smaller Washington State markets are coming together, mixing and matching the formats and signals of 23 stations. The result will be a pair of clusters owned by the surviving entity, and a pair owned by a trust and on the shelf for sale. And a tough sell it may be.

The $6M sale of 12 New Northwest Broadcast stations by receiver Revitalization Trust to Townsquare Media, which already has 11 of its own in the two markets, involves more than dividing stations into keepers and discards – it also involves moving formats to stronger stations. Here’s how the whole thing shakes out.

On the AM side in Yakima, TM will keep News-Talk KIT-AM, on 1280 kHz (Yakima, 5 kW-D, 1 kW-N, ND), and it will keep the signal of Country KUTI-AM, on 1460 kHz (Yakima, 5 kW-D, 3.7 kW-N, DAN). However, KUTI will make way for NNB’s Sports KJOX-AM.

That leaves KUTI to make do with KJOX’s 1390 kHz home (Yakima, 5 kW-D, 390 w-N, DA2). NNB Talker KBBO-AM (Selah, 980 kHz, 5 kW-D, 500 W-N, DA2) goes straight to the trust.

The Yakima FM mix and match works as follows stations: Among TM stations, Rock KATS-FM 94.5 mHZ survives (Yakima, C1, 100 kW @ 909’). The 107.3 MHz facility of Hit KFFM-FM (Yakima, C, 100 kW @ 1,512’) also survives, but will take the calls and programming of TM’s Country KDBL-FM.

The facility of KDBL (92.7 MHz, Toppenish, C2, 17 kW @ 843’) will be the new home of KFFM and will go to the trust. TM’s 80s-90s KQMY-FM (99.3 MHz Naches, A, 790 W @ 899’) is also trust-bound.

Keepers coming from NNW are Country KXDD-FM (104.1, Yakima, C1, 100 kW @ 804’) to 80s-90s KRSE-FM (105.7, Yakima, C1, 100 kW, 545’). Headed for the trust are Hits KHHK-FM (99.7, Yakima, C3, 4.1 kW @ 804’) and 60s-70s KARY-FM (100.9, Grandview, 7.8 kW, 1,211’).

In Tri-Cities, TM starts out with only one AM – News-Talk KFLD-AM (870, Pasco, 10 kW-D, 250 w-N, ND). It’s a keeper.

Of the two NNW AMs, Sports KALE-AM is sticking around, but it’s moving from 960 kHz (5 kW-D, 1 kW-N, DAN) to 1340 kHz (1 kW-U, ND). That’s where Talk KTCR resides. The latter station will move to KALE’s abandoned frequency and go into the trust.

TM FMs that are sticking around include Rock KXRX-FM (97.1, Walla Walla, C0, 100 kW @ 1,329’) and Country KORD-FM (102.7, Richland, C0, 100 kW # 1.325’). 60s-70s KOLW-FM (97.5, Basin City, C1, 50 kW @ 620’) is headed for the trust. Finally, the facility of 80s-90s KEYW-FM (98.3, Pasco, C2, 12.5 kW @ 997’) is going into trust, but the format will survive on incoming NNW station KEGX-FM (106.5, Richland, C0, 100 kW @ 1,391’). The KEGX Classic Rock format goes into trust on KEYW’s old 98.3 slot.

The final keeper is NNW’s Hits KUJ-FM (99.1, Burbank, C1, 52 kW @ 1,263’). Going straight to the trust is Country KIOK-FM (94.9, Richland, 100 kW @ 1,250’) and KKSR-FM, currently playing holiday music (95.7, Walla Walla, C, 100 kW @ 1,401’).

In a nutshell, and not surprisingly, the surviving entity in each market will have the strongest stations, although the advantages are far less obvious in Tri-Cities, where the trust will have two full Class C FMs.

The sale of the NNW stations to TM was brokered by Kalil & Co. and was contracts have already been filed with the FCC.

RBR-TVBR observation: Imagine that in New York City the Mets acquire the Yankees, trade its weakest players for the Yankees’ best, and then put the Yankees back on the market. They’d have to find somebody willing to compete with the strengthened Mets using the weakened Yanks. And that, ladies and gentlemen, could be a tough sell.

There are of course other paths than selling the two groups intact, and on top of that, it’s not like they are loaded to the gills with weak-sister rim-shot stations. We looked at the maps for the FMs, and most if not all of these stations seem to cover where it counts in their respective markets.

The two clusters could be broken up and sold piece by piece to niche operators and perhaps to some of the noncommercial operations that like working in the non-reserved band above 92 MHz. Stations could be sold alone, in pairs, in trios.

If nothing else, it’ll be extremely interesting to see how the spinning of the stations proceeds. Stay tuned.