March 1996: The New Normal
Following the passage of the Communications Act in February 1996 and without a big city format change, March 1996 was quiet in comparison.
March began seeing the buy and trade approach to station acquisitions. Entercom briefly entered the New York market purchasing Active Rock “Q104.3” WAXQ from GAF Corp. for $90 million, but then immediately turned around and traded it to Viacom for 1210 KBSG/97.3 KBSG-FM/107.7 KNDD Seattle.
EZ Communications swapped their New Orleans cluster of 1450 WBYU/97.1 WEZB/99.5 WRNO to Heritage Media for 1090 KRPM/106.1 KCIN Seattle. That deal would give EZ three Country stations in the Seattle market leading to a format change at one.
Infinity Broadcasting made the biggest deal of the month as it acquired Granum Communications’ twelve stations for $410 million. That deal brought 1380 WAOK/103.3 WVEE Atlanta, 600 WCAO/102.7 WXYV Baltimore, 92.9 WBOS/99.5 WOAZ Boston, 1240 KHVN/100.3 KRBV/107.5 KOAI Dallas and 990 WHOO/96.5 WHTQ/98.9 WMMO Orlando to Mel Karmazin’s group.
Clear Channel was busy in March with a trio of deals. Clear Channel bought Ragan Henry’s US Radio’s eighteen stations for $140 million bringing it clusters in El Paso, Houston, Little Rock, Memphis, Milwaukee, Norfolk, Raleigh and Reading. Clear Channel then added 107.9 WENZ Cleveland from Ardman Broadcasting for $6 million and
American Radio Systems was positioning itself to be a big player in March as the company made two large deals. ARS entered the month as the #10 radio group in size with 37 stations and ended the month with 12 new acquisitions. ARS acquired Marlin Broadcasting’s 95.7 WFLN Philadelphia, 105.1 WQRS Detroit, and 93.1 WTMI-FM Miami for $66.5 million and then immediately sold WTMI-FM back to Marlin President Woody Tanger for $18 million. The next deal brought Henry Broadcasting’s nine stations for $115 million. That acquisition gave ARS three stations in Fresno and two each in Omaha, Portland and Sacramento.
Paxson Communications acquired 1580 WSRF and 103.5 WSHE Miami from TK Communications for $57.5 million.
Nationwide Communications purchased 950 KSGS and 104.1 KMJZ Minneapolis from Park Communications for $22 million.
Citadel made two acquisitions in Albuquerque purchasing 103.3 KASY for $5 million and 1050 KHFM/96.3 KHFM-FM for $5.75 million. Those three stations would join Citadel’s existing four station cluster in the market.
Denver was the center of a number of changes at the beginning of March. After Classical 99.5 KVOD Denver’s intellectual property was transferred to 92.5 in late-February, Tribune Broadcasting launched Classic Rock “99.5 The Hawk” KKHK. That followed by EXCL Communications flipping Alternative “92X” KNRX to Rhythmic CHR “Jam’n 92.1” KJMN and also raiding the entire programming and on-air staff of Western Cities Broadcasting’s “KS 104.3” KQKS. Both KNRX and KQKS had been operated via LMA by Century Broadcasting, but that came to an end with EXCL’s purchase of 92.1 and 1090 KYBG.
Nationwide Communications brought the heritage KZZP call letters back to 104.7 Phoenix following a five year stint as Hot AC “Variety 104.7” KVRY. The new KZZP launched as a Modern AC before segueing to CHR a couple years later. Former KZZP morning host Jonathan Brandmeier’s Chicago morning show was syndicated back to Phoenix for mornings, while future KISW Seattle morning host BJ Shea hosted nights.
With its purchase of “Kickin 106.1” KCIN Seattle on top of its ownership of 94.1 KMPS and pending acquisition of “Young Country 93.3” KYCW Seattle, EZ Communications flipped KCIN to Rhythmic AC “Kiss 106” KBKS. By the end of the year KBKS would segue to CHR.
Shamrock Broadcasting flipped Rock 93.3 WQFM Milwaukee to Smooth Jazz WJZI.
Jacor Communications began simulcasting CHR 93.3 WFLZ Tampa on its recently acquired 93.3 KHTS San Diego.
Odyssey Communications flipped suburban Sports trimulcast 107.1 KMAX/KAXX/KBAX Los Angeles to Alternative “Y107” KLYY/KVYY/KSYY.