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April 1996: Las Vegas Sees Multiple Flips

1996 The Year That Changed RadioWe continue our month by month recap of the deals and changes that shaped radio in 1996.

Acquisitions

Sinclair Broadcasting, then and now a mostly Television based operation, made the big splash of the month with the acquisition of River City Broadcasting for $1.2 billion. The deal added 10 TV stations and 34 radio stations to Sinclair’s holdings including clusters in Albuquerque, Buffalo, Greenville, Memphis, Nashville, New Orleans, St. Louis and Wilkes-Barre plus 1580 KBLA Los Angeles.

Evergreen Media purchased Rhythmic CHR “Wild 107.7” KYLD San Francisco from Crescent Communications for $44 million to pair with Hot AC “K101” KIOI and Urban 106.1 KMEL.

OmniAmerica swapped Rock 100.7 WMMS and Oldies 105.7 WMJI Cleveland to Nationwide Communications for Hot AC “Mix 105.1” WOMX Orlando and $43.5 million. Nationwide paired its two new Cleveland FMs with Country 99.5 WGAR, while WOMX paired with CHR “XL106.7” WWXL in Orlando. OmniAmerica then sold Sports 1420 WHK Cleveland to Salem for $6.5 million.

American Radio Systems continued its rapid growth on the west coast. First it paid $8 million for Rhythmic CHR “94.1 Jamz” KJMZ and from Parker Communications and AC 100.5 KMZQ, Classic Rock 107.5 KFBI and Sports 840 KVEG from Crescent Communications for $30 million. ARS had previously purchased CHR 98.5 KLUC and Travel 1140 KXNO from Nationwide. As seen below, ARS would act quickly on its LMA to reshape its Las Vegas cluster.

ARS also purchased Rock 92.3 KSJO and Classic Rock 94.5 KUFX in the San Jose market and Country 98.5 KUPL and Smooth Jazz 106.7 KKJZ in the Portland market from BayCom Partners for $103 million and Sports 1380 KMJI and Rhythmic CHR 102.5 KSFM in Sacramento from Secret Communications for an undisclosed amount.

EZ Communications acquired Sports 590 KFNS and AC 102.5 KEZK St. Louis from Par Broadcasting for $48 million.

Multi-Market Communications purchased Precision Media Corp. CHR 95.7 WKSS Hartford for $18 million to join its acquisition of Liberty Broadcasting’s 1410 WPOP, 104.1 WMRQ, and 105.9 WHCN. Multi-Market head Robert Sillerman then merged the company into his co-owned SFX Broadcasting bringing 77 stations under SFX’s control.

One way to create a mega-cluster was a straight merger. Point Communications paired their 1310 WIBA, 92.1 WMAD, and 101.5 WIBA-FM in Madison WI with Midcontinent Broadcasting’s 1070 WTSO, 96.3 WMLI, and 104.1 WZEE.

Barnstable Broadcasting began LMAing Islandwide Broadcasting’s Long Island NY cluster in preparation of an eventual purchase. Barnstable added Country 740 WGSM, AC 98.3 WKJY, and Rock simulcast 94.3 WMJC/103.9 WRCN.

Evergreen Media broke up its Buffalo NY holdings as it sold Oldies 1120 WHTT/104.1 WHTT-FM to Mercury Radio for $19.5 million and Smooth Jazz 92.9 WSJZ to American Radio Systems for $12.5 million.

In addition to their sales in San Francisco and Las Vegas, Crescent Communications sold their Albuquerque/Santa Fe holdings to Citadel Broadcasting. Sports 1450 KRZY, Country 92.3 KRST and Country 105.9 KRZY-FM joined Citadel’s seven other holdings in the market at that time for $23 million.

Format Changes

The biggest changes in April came in Las Vegas as American Radio Systems began consolidating its newly expanded cluster. Rhythmic CHR “94.1 Jamz” KJMZ was flipped to Hot AC “Mix 94.1” KMXB to take it out of direct competition with new sister 98.5 KLUC. Classic Rock 107.5 KFBI flipped to Alternative “X107.5” KXTE while Howard Stern remained in mornings. The new structure gave ARS a wall of women with KLUC targeting 12-24, KMXB 25-44, and AC “Lite 100.5” KMZQ 35-54.

Sheridan and Chancellor closed on their frequency swap in Pittsburgh moving Alternative WXDX from 106.7 to the stronger 105.9, while Urban WAMO “Hot 106” WAMO-FM made the reverse move.

Capitol Broadcasting’s newly acquired Country “Young Country 96.1” WMYC Mobile AL flipped to Classic Rock “96.1 The Rocket” WRKH after it and sister Country 94.9 WKSJ became sisters to Capitol’s existing 104.1 WDWG.

Cumulus flipped Alternative “Live 101.9” WHHY Montgomery AL to Country “Cat Country 102“.

Hawes-Saunders Broadcasting flipped AC 96.9 WTRJ Dayton OH to Urban Oldies WRNB utilizing ABC Radio Networks’ Solid Gold Soul network.

Rock 104.1” KHOP Modesto CA merged with 95.1 KDJK on the 95.1 signal with the KHOP call letters. After a week of stunting with nonstop Elvis, 104.1 became Classic Hits “Arrow 104.1” KROW. It would rebrand again in August as “104.1 The Hawk” KHKK.


Special thanks to David Gleason’s AmericanRadioHistory.com, whose archive of radio industry publications and documents makes this historical look back possible.

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Lance Venta is the Owner and Publisher of RadioInsight.com and a consultant for RadioBB Networks specializing in integration of radio and the internet. Lance has two decades of experience tracking the audio industry and its use of digital platforms.

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