Salem Parts Ways With A D.C. AM


Salem Media Group delivered lackluster Q4 2018 results. The company’s Q1 2019 outlook is grim, too. This has led Salem shares to fall toward prices last seen on Christmas Eve 2018, and not on a consistent basis since July 2009.

Potential asset sales were discussed. Now, Salem has acted by selling a Class B AM with a rich history in the Nation’s Capital.

In a deal that saw Kathleen Kirby of Wiley Rein LLP serve as Salem’s legal counsel, the Camarillo, Calif.-based entity focused on non-secular programming and conservative News/Talk AMs is agreeing to part ways with WSPZ-AM 1260 in Washington, D.C.

This is the Class B facility that from February 20, 1950 until 1999 was the home of WWDC-AM, a MOR station that in December 1963 made history by playing the Beatles’ “I Want To Hold Your Hand” before any other U.S. radio station. A change to Top 40 was made in the 1970s against three other competitors, and in 1984 changed to Adult Standards, which proved to be successful.

Since then, the facility saw several format changes and call letter shifts, first taking on WGAY and then becoming WWRC. The most recent call letter swap came in November 2017, when Red Zebra Broadcasting’s sale of the 570 kHz signal led Salem to swap the WSPZ calls with WWRC.

Now, WSPZ is being handed to Immaculate Heart Media, which will use it for its “Relevant Radio” Christian Talk format.

It’s not a huge shift for WSPZ, which has been simulcasting the Christian Talk & Teaching format heard since February 14, 1992 on WAVA-FM 105.1, acquired by Salem from Emmis Communications.

IHR is paying $750,000 for WSPZ, which has 35kw during daylight hours from 2 towers and 5kw at night from 3 towers, located due west of downtown Silver Spring, Md.

A $37,500 deposit has been made to Salem. The remainder is due in cash at closing.

Jorgenson Broadcast Brokerage served as the exclusive broker, representing Salem, and escrow agent in this transaction.