Speculation over FM station sale puts big dollar signs in local eyes

VICTOR STREDICKE April 6, 1989 – Would you like to make $6 million or $7 million in a week? Adams Communications, new owners of KQUL-KZOK, might or might not have that choice. The announcement last week that Fisher Broadcasting (KOMO) is looking for an FM frequency has led to speculation about what a Seattle FM frequency is worth, and what stations might be for sale.

Listeners might even get in on the speculation: If the FM station you listen to has a low profile in the marketplace, if it doesn’t have three commercials between each music sweep, if it doesn’t have a TV sister station, there might be a change. Remember the capitalist motto: Everything’s for sale, at the right price.

Seattle’s best single-station sale so far has been KISW at $13 million cash. Several multiple station sales have transpired recently, including $16 million for KRPM-AM-FM, and $14 million for KLTX-KIXI. I would place a price on KUBE at $22 millon to $25 million – if it could be isolated from the group sale in 1987 that totaled about $180 million.

So, here we have Adams, a chain based in Florida, who just paid $17 million to Fred Danz, Bellevue, for four radio stations in the Northwest, including the rather moribund KZOK, 102.5 mHz.

According to the new Birch radio ratings, however, KZOK is not dead; it’s the 10th most popular station among listeners 12 and older.

So who better than KOMO to offer $17 million just for KZOK, or at most KZOK-KQUL? Adams could leave town, but with two radio stations valued at about $7 million free and clear. In fact, conversations between representatives of Fisher Broadcasting and Adams have been held. But, KOMO has no comment. And the Adams representative who ought to know, in Phoenix, has not returned phone calls.

Mike Fowler, Adams’ general manager at KZOK-KQUL, says the rumors are damaging a good beginning for KZOK. He moved from Chicago and purchased a house on the Eastside. He’s new enough that he still considers Evergreen Point rush hours scenic.

“This is going to be one unhappy camper if the rumors are true,” Fowler said.

Would KOMO pay that much? It is only recently that the FCC has said it would look at a TV operator adding to its empire in its own marketplace. There is a limited window of opportunity to add an FM frequency, and it comes from national politics.

In the Nixon era, the FCC reflected Richard Nixon’s distrust of media conglomerates. Three-station combos were nixed. The Reagan administration relaxed the FCC.

Broadcast priorities for the Bush administration aren’t yet clear.


Robert Siegel, co-host of NPR’s “All Things Considered,” will appear on KUOW’s “Potluck” at 11 p.m. Saturday on 94.9 mHz. . . . The new “Morning Crew” at KMGI, 107.7 mhz., is/are Alpha Trivette and Kelly Stevens . . . Emil Guillermo from San Francisco is one of the new hosts of NPR’s daily afternoon program, “All Things Considered,” on KPLU and KUOW . . . Valerie Stains, KUOW music director, will work for a year on National Public Radio’s arts-and-performance programming in Washington, D.C. . . . Patti Par has agreed to a split shift at KMPS-AM-FM, offering morning and afternoon traffic reports . . . A three-hour review of Academy of Country Music Awards nominations is scheduled at 8 p.m. Sunday on KMPS-AM-FM, 1300 and 94.1.

Author: Victor Stredicke

Former radio columnist for the Seattle Times (1964-1989). --- View other articles by Victor Stredicke

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