In a deal announced immediately after Wednesday’s Closing Bell on Wall Street, publicly traded Salem Media Group revealed that it is parting ways with half of its stations in Nebraska’s biggest market.
The buyer is a regional entity known for being a trailblazer owner of a regional Mexican station serving Latinos in Nebraska, and for the NewsChannel Nebraska operation.
For an undisclosed price, Flood Communications subsidiary Hickory Radio is acquiring Class B KOTK-AM 1420 “The Answer,” Salem’s conservative talk station in the Omaha market; and Class D KCRO-AM 660 “The Word” in Omaha.
KCRO has 1 tower and broadcasts with 1kw during daylight hours and a paltry 54 watts at night. KOTK has 2 towers and uses 1kw by day and 330 watts after dark.
Hickory is technically an affiliate of Walnut Radio, and they will manage KCRO and KOTK along with its other stations.
“For listeners, programmers and advertisers, the transition from Salem to Walnut/Hickory will be somewhat imperceptible,” Salem said in a statement.
That’s because both KCRO and KOTK will remain in their respective formats and retain their current program line-ups. Salem is licensing the use of the brand names “The Word” and “The Answer” in Omaha to Hickory/Walnut so that the stations will maintain their continuity.
“We are glad to be adding these popular and historic stations to the Walnut family,” Walnut Radio President Steve Seline said. “We believe in the Greater Omaha area and have continued to put our money into local stations with the intent to both serve the area with our programming and to give our employees greater opportunities in their home towns.”
Dave Santrella, Salem’s President of Broadcast Media, added, “We are thrilled to put these radio stations in the capable hands of Walnut Radio; a broadcaster with deep roots in the area and with a commitment to maintain the quality of broadcast our ministry partners, advertisers and listeners have come to expect.”
The sale of KOTK and KCRO did not sit well with investors. As soon as word got out that it was selling the stations, Salem’s stock hit the skids, falling as low as $4.25 before finishing the day at $4.40 — a 5.4% decline from Tuesday’s close.
Salem stock peaked July 2 at $5.95 per share, completing a healthy rebound from a year-to-date low of $3.20 on April 23. That climb helped to negate a steady decline for Salem shares that began in November 2017.
Now, Salem stock is back where it was in the middle of June.
Without KOTK and KCRO, Salem/Omaha’s owned stations are reduced to Christian Top 40 KGBI-FM 100.7 “The Fish.”