Sometimes an owner has no choice but to find a new tower site. For New World Radio President/CEO Alan Pendleton, that day came when the land one of his stations was located on was sold and he faced many decisions, he tells us in an interview.
New World Radio owns three Class D AMs: WUST, Washington, DC, WCRW Leesburg, Virginia and WNWR, Philadelphia.
WUST on 1120 kHz, was leasing tower space from what had been a 12-acre farm in McLean, which is in the built-out northern Virginia suburbs. The former owner built WEAM (1390kHz) there. WUST had been leasing space in Washington, DC and moved to the McLean site in 1993. They leased the tower site for 20 years and received several extensions. But the owners died and eventually a niece who lived out west inherited the property, Pendleton tells us.
WUST was paying $5,000 a month in rent and the new owner was told she could get $7.3 million in a sale. The property actually went on the market several times and was eventually sold to a developer for $19 million, says Pendleton.
During all of this time, WUST approached other stations, hoping to lease tower space. “Because we were non-directional we thought we could go on any tower.” That was the wrong impression, he tells us. For example, they approached WTOP but would have had a diminished signal if they had leased space on that tower.
WUST eventually ended up moving to Capital Heights, Maryland and became part of a triplex with two other AMs — CBS Radio’s WJFK and Way Broadcasting’s WZHF.
Gary Cavell of Cavell Mertz & Associates moved WUST away from interference and was able to boost the station’s power, from the previous 20 kW to now 50 kW, according to Pendleton.
He said the move was expensive but worth it and in the end, any owner needs to determine “if there’s a place the station can move to. If not is the tradeoff for the land more valuable than the prospects for the station?”
He and Cavell agree sometimes a station sale is emotional; someone may have inherited a station from their parent or grandparents but doesn’t want it.
“In the end, it’s about the money,” concludes Pendleton.