By Adam R Jacobson
RBR + TVBR
Jerry and Sheryl Coyne (pictured, at left) have grown their Blarney Stone.
It took a Northern wind to make it happen.
In a transaction announced Wednesday (Sept. 28) by Traverse City, Mich. company the Coyne’s own – Blarney Stone Broadcasting – has agreed to purchase six radio stations and two FM translator stations in the Traverse City-Petoskey, Mich. market from a division of a family-owned Pepsi-Cola distribution company based in Minot, North Dakota.
Northern Broadcast is the seller, and it is transferring to Blarney Stone the following stations:
- WKLT-FM 97.5 in Kalaska, Mich., serving the Traverse City area. WKLT is a Class 2 facility with 32kw of power.
- WKLZ-FM 98.9 in Petoskey, Mich., a Class C1 facility with 100kw of power. WKLZ and WKLT are simulcast partners, airing a Rock format.
- WFCX-FM 94.3, a Class C2 with 20.5 kw licensed to Leland, Mich.
- WFDX-FM 92.5, a Class C1 with 100kw licensed to Atlanta, Mich. WFCX and WFDX are simulcast partners as Classic Hits “Fox”
- WSRJ-FM 105.5, an ESPN Radio affiliate with a Class C3 17kw facility licensed to Honor, Mich., serving the Traverse City area.
- FM translator stations W263CD, licensed to Boyne City, Mich., and silent W252DA, licensed to Petoskey, are also being sold by Northern Broadcast to Blarney Stone.
- Northern’s six broadcast towers are also being acquired by Blarney Stone.
Blarney Stone was founded in 2012 by the Coynes with the acquisition of Christian Talk & Teaching WMQU-AM in Grayling; WGRY-FM in Roscommon, which carries CBS Sports Radio programming and is the local affiliate for the Detroit Tigers, Detroit Pistons and Detroit Red Wings; and 60kw Rocker WQON-FM 100.3 in Grayling, the affiliate for Detroit Lions football and University of Michigan men’s basketball and football games.
Jerry Coyne is known for a stint at San Francisco-based BAM magazine, a free bi-weekly publication covering the Bay Area music scene that folded in early 1999. Sheryl Coyne has more than three decades of experience in Detroit radio, and served as GSM of CBS Radio’s 98.7 MHz frequency — CHR/Pop WDZH from October 2009 through July 2012; and Smooth Jazz WVMV-FM from May 2004 until its format change 5 1/2 years later. She began her career at that facility in 1986, as a sales assistant for what was then Rocker WLLZ “Detroit’s Wheels.”
In an exclusive conversation with RBR + TVBR, Sheryl Coyne says, “We’re most excited about the opportunity to impact economic growth in Northern Michigan. It is a great opportunity, with the reach of these stations, to revitalize the medium in Northern Michigan, and get advertisers to reengage. Before the bubble burst in 2009, this was a $20 million market. Today it is between $12 million and $14 million. It’s time to demonstrate the power of radio, especially in a touristy town.”
Traverse City-Petoskey-Cadillac, Mich. is the 160th-largest radio market in the country, with a 12+ population of 297,300, according to Nielsen. The region is a holiday destination to more than 1 million visitors each year.
In a separate move, Baraga Broadcasting will purchase WSRT (FM), licensed to Gaylord, from Blarney Stone Broadcasting. This deal is scheduled to close pending approval from the Federal Communications Commission.
PETOSKEY’S ESPN AFFILIATE SPUN TO BARAGA
While Blarney Stone will also be acquiring WSRT-FM 106.7, a Class C1 100kw facility licensed to Gaylord, Mich. that presently simulcasts with WSRJ, Blarney Stone will be spinning this property to Baraga Radio, known as “The Catholic Light for Northern Michigan.” Baraga is a non-profit, listener-funded Catholic ministry dedicated to serving the people of the Dioceses of Gaylord and Marquette, Mich.
Baraga will assume control of WSRT on November 1. Speaking for Baraga’s board of directors, company president Tom Hornacek said, “We are extremely thankful and excited for the opportunity to expand our coverage throughout northern lower Michigan with this acquisition. The addition of 106.7 FM to the Baraga Radio Network makes it only the seventh 100,000-watt station providing Catholic Radio programming in existence.”
WSRJ’s ESPN Radio programming could wind up on either of the two translators Blarney Stone is acquiring, as each serve Petoskey.