WBRU may be going up for sale soon

RadioInsight Community Forums Northeast Rhode Island WBRU may be going up for sale soon

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This topic contains 42 replies, has 11 voices, and was last updated by  Eric Jon Magnuson 3 months, 1 week ago.

Viewing 15 posts - 16 through 30 (of 43 total)
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  • #175608

    aaronread
    Participant

    FYI, Kent – Hall might be interested in WBRU…I’m told they’re not, but who knows?…but if they are it’s not because of WBRU’s tower.  Currently they broadcast from the same tower (and antenna) as WHJY.  The stick there used to be owned by iHeart but they sold it to American Tower for a cheap long term lease several years ago.  I’m told it’s already at maximum capacity so there’s no way WCTK could move there; I doubt you could combine 98.1 into a four-bay, full-wave-spaced array meant for 94.1.

    WBRU holds a CP to move to their aux site out at Peck Hill in Johnston, which is a superior location anyways.  But I know that tower and while structurally it’s got capacity, there’s not much physical room for another FM array on there.  WBRU had to add a monopole to the top, and again, combining 98.1 into an array meant for 95.5 is iffy at best.  However, WBRU doesn’t own that tower, so WCTK could’ve moved there at any time if that were its desire.

    The bigger problem is that WCTK 98.1 can’t move very much.  I think northward it’s constrained by WKAF 97.7 Brockton and WBZ-FM 98.5 Boston, and I think westward it’s blocked by either WCTY 97.7  Norwich CT or WILI 98.3 Willimantic CT.  Ironically both of those stations are also owned by Hall, but that just tells me that if there were a way to cripple modify either of those facilities and move WCTK westward, Hall would’ve done it.

    If they COULD move it westward, they could’ve gone to the old WLNE-TV6 tower in Tiverton and gotten better Providence coverage without getting closer to any Boston-area signals.  But that’s going pretty far west.  And I think Hall owns the tower WCTK is on, too…IIRC they like owning the sticks their signals are on, don’t they?

    #175631

    Eric Jon Magnuson
    Participant

    While it’s certainly possible, I don’t see Entercom messing with WBRU. They already have enough issues with spinning off various properties, including two in Boston. The reason WVEI 103.7 works well for them is because it’s so cheap to operate. 95% of its content is just a rebroadcast of WEEI-FM in Boston. If you add 95.5 to the mix, what would Entercom put on it? Would they build out a presence in Providence all of a sudden? How would they compete with iHeartMedia & Cumulus owning (almost) all the top-billing frequencies in town? Like I said, it’s possible but it doesn’t feel likely to me.

    It didn’t sink in earlier, but what if Entercom ends up spinning off the mothership (WEEI) as part of the CBS merger?  Does Entercom spin WVEI off as well?  Change the simulcast to one involving the Sports Hub?  Drop simulcasting altogether, in favor of a locally programmed format?

     

    #175898

    Mike Fitzpatrick
    Participant

    FYI, Kent – Hall might be interested in WBRU…I’m told they’re not, but who knows?…but if they are it’s not because of WBRU’s tower. Currently they broadcast from the same tower (and antenna) as WHJY. The stick there used to be owned by iHeart but they sold it to American Tower for a cheap long term lease several years ago. I’m told it’s already at maximum capacity so there’s no way WCTK could move there; I doubt you could combine 98.1 into a four-bay, full-wave-spaced array meant for 94.1.

    It was actually sold to Vertical Bridge, not American Tower.  And from a technical stand-point, the antenna isn’t the issue. It’s already a broadband FM (ERI SHPX-4BC), and could handle 98.1 without much of a whimper. The combiner would need to be modified for the new 2nd frequency. The bigger issue is 98.1 can’t move west without getting into WILI-FM on 98.3, and because it’s north, there may be issues with 98.5 from there too. I haven’t run the numbers to see about the legal spacing.
    #175916

    kent
    Participant

     

    It didn’t sink in earlier, but what if Entercom ends up spinning off the mothership (WEEI) as part of the CBS merger? Does Entercom spin WVEI off as well? Change the simulcast to one involving the Sports Hub? Drop simulcasting altogether, in favor of a locally programmed format?

    It won’t.  WEEI-FM is always one of the top two billers in Boston and is one of the highest billing stations in the entire pre-merger company.  I tend to think Entercom would do anything, even spin most or all of the current CBS cluster, to keep it.
    #175928

    aaronread
    Participant

    It didn’t sink in earlier, but what if Entercom ends up spinning off the mothership (WEEI) as part of the CBS merger?  Does Entercom spin WVEI off as well?  Change the simulcast to one involving the Sports Hub?  Drop simulcasting altogether, in favor of a locally programmed format?

    As Kent mentioned, I highly, HIGHLY doubt the DOJ under Trump will force CBS/Entercom to spin off either the WEEI format or the SportsHub format.  But to answer your question, if they were forced to do so?  I actually think the most logical move might just be to sell 103.7 as part of any spinoff in the Boston market.  It seems counterintuitive, sure, but remember that CBS/Entercom needs to ditch two FM’s in the Boston market.  Logically they’d spinoff the weakest signals: WKAF & WAAF.  But who would take them?

    Only a fool or an existing major player would pay anything approaching market rate for two marginal FM’s in a highly competitive market like that.  I don’t think any of the existing major players have either the cash/credit to buy (iHeart) or the cap space (Beasley/Greater Media).  So that leaves fools, and there aren’t many fools out there with that much money.   (h/t to Scott for ably reminding me of all this a while ago)

    So probably Entercom has to sweeten the deal.  Offload some other properties, too.  Maybe WRKO and WEEI (AM)?  Why not?  They’ve got long-term albatross potential and little current upside.  But any buyer would know that, too.  So something else has to go into the deal, too.  Why not WVEI-FM?  Granted, you could say “Why not WXXX/KXXX?” for fifty other licenses CBS/Entercom owns but at least WVEI-FM already gets into a lot of Boston’s South Shore.  If simulcast with WEEI-FM 93.7 now, they actually work pretty well at covering both Boston and Providence together.   I could see Entercom “sweetening” any spinoff deal with 93.7 as well; put the sports content on 100.7, 104.1 or 103.3 and kill off the existing format on one of those three signals.

    This is all just raw speculation, though.  It’s fun to do but I wouldn’t put too much stock in it.

    For example, since 103.7 is firmly in the Providence market, CBS/Entercom doesn’t have to do anything with it.  They could spinoff 93.7, put the sports on 104.1 and put the Mix format on 103.7.

    Or, for all we know, Entercom is the buyer of WBRU 95.5 and they plan on expanding 103.7’s local sports content and making a play as a real cluster in Providence.  Who knows???

    #176060

    kent
    Participant

    Rumors are that iHeart is interested in Entercom’s Boston spinoffs, but, if it gets them, it will likely be via trade.  Not sure what iHeart would give up, but Entercom’s conference call a month or so ago indicated it expected to add more markets.  Nobody went into detail, but logic would say those markets would cone from iHeart and/or Cumulus.

    #176091

    aaronread
    Participant

    I suppose.  SPECULATION, WHEEEEE!  LOL  🙂

    OTOH, as was pointed out to me yesterday…there’s nothing stopping CBS/Entercom from putting these “over cap” stations into a separate trust and just leaving them there for years, if not decades.

    #176100

    Charles Everett
    Participant

    I have three words for you: Concentration Of Revenue.

    Children play musical chairs. Broadcasting is not a glorified Monopoly board.

    #176104

    kent
    Participant

    I suppose. SPECULATION, WHEEEEE! LOL ? OTOH, as was pointed out to me yesterday…there’s nothing stopping CBS/Entercom from putting these “over cap” stations into a separate trust and just leaving them there for years, if not decades.

    Seems unlikely.  Entercom said it had letters of intent for every station it intended to divest.  It didn’t release those divestitures, however, saying there could be changes if the DOJ requested them.  Plus, deals can always fall apart after the LOI stage.  It may not be common, but it’s certainly not rare.
    While it’s hard to say what the current FCC will do, the previous one started cracking down on trusts.  A handful of ex-Citadel and ex-Clear Channel stations have sat in trust for a decade or more, but that’s not usually a lucrative venture.  You don’t get to realize any operating profits from the stations in the trust, but you have to take care of all of the liabilities.  Your only hope to make money off of trusts is to either get the stations in trust to become self-sufficient or to make everything back in station sales.
    #176271

    aaronread
    Participant

    <p style=”text-align: left;”>Welp, it’s all but official.  EMF/K-Love “won” the WBRU Sweepstakes.  See Lance’s updated story:  https://radioinsight.com/headlines/119017/wbru-confirms-imminent-sale/</p>
    <p style=”text-align: left;”>See also that EMF filed to moderately improve WKIV 88.1 in Westerly, too.  Finally putting it on a real-ish tower, and dumping the pre-DTV migration v-pol one-bay for a c-pol array and twice as much HAAT with the same ERP.

    Interesting, it appears the Brown University-controlled “Brown Student Radio” (BSR) LPFM is taking over the “WBRU” call letters as well.  I have to assume that means WBRU owner Brown Broadcast Service (BBS) will use some of the sale money to get BSR’s LPFM built, and in exchange some amount of WBRU’s current format will be remaining on the Providence airwaves on the 101.1FM LPFM freq.</p>
    What’s unknown now is how exactly that’ll work.  There’s been a lot of speculation that WBRU’s Sunday urban/hip-hop format “360” will remain on FM somewhere.  Maybe it’ll just be that?  Maybe it’ll be more?  How will this work with the utterly bizarre alternating-days schedule for the time-shared LPFM with AS220 (WFOO-LP) and Providence Community Radio (no calls yet).  And it is BIZARRE.  Check it out here, here and here.  Does it mean they’ll reshuffle the assigned hours?  Does it mean AS220 and/or PCR are being “bought out” to let their CP’s for the share time to expire in January 2018, so BSR can file to take over the whole license 24/7?  Who knows!?!?

     

     

     

    #176272

    aaronread
    Participant

    FWIW, I am fairly surprised by this development.

    Even if WBRU “lives on” in some form on the 101.1 LPFM signal…the backlash against Brown University has already started on Twitter.  People either don’t understand that Brown (technically) does not own the license, or they don’t care.  And to some degree, they shouldn’t.  Brown University may not own the license, but they own the building WBRU’s studios are in, and they could…if they wanted to…expel every student involved with WBRU’s ownership.  If a college wants a student out, even if it’s the day before commencement?  They don’t need a reason; you’re gone.

    But also I’m kind of surprised that nobody else stepped up to make a serious enough offer to convince the Brown Broadcasting Service (owners of WBRU) to not, frankly, sell out to this extreme.  I mean, seriously?  K-Love?!?   OTOH, I guess we’ll see in a few days, when the application hits the CDBS, just how much money the sale was for.  Maybe it really was an offer they couldn’t refuse.

    FWIW, I know that at RIPR we would’ve loved to get 95.5 but we couldn’t possibly make a competitive bid in terms of cash.  We’re too extended with 89.3 and other capital needs at the moment.   Sure, if you wanted SOME cash and a way of staying on the air?  Maybe 89.3?  Or maybe WELH?  (We don’t own it, of course, but perhaps Wheeler School would’ve been interested in making a deal.)  THAT we probably could’ve done.  But not straight cash.  I’m sure the sale price was at least $5mil and that’s too rich for us at the moment.

    #176274

    Eric Jon Magnuson
    Participant

    Has the programming already changed at all?  I’ve come across a couple of tweets specifically saying that today’s “12 Cuts” was the final installment.  (Granted, it’s a weekly program–so maybe folks are just assuming that the change to K-Love will indeed happen by next Friday.)

     

    #176277

    Eric Jon Magnuson
    Participant

    The basics of the deal have now been (briefly) confirmed…

    (Updated to note that the above statement is now also incorporated into http://wpri.com/2017/08/25/wbru-95-5s-signal-moving-to-christian-k-love-network.)

     

    #176290

    Eric Jon Magnuson
    Participant

    Here are a couple of further confirmations/slight updates from earlier today…

    http://turnto10.com/news/local/wbru-on-air-signal-changing-formats

    http://www.providencejournal.com/news/20170826/wbru-from-alternative-rock-to-christian-format

    Also, it looks like the on-air staff have started to discuss this (including during tonight’s Taking Back Saturday).

     

    #176338

    Eric Jon Magnuson
    Participant

    There may be a truly official, full announcement later today…

    Also, I’m not sure if there’s truly special programming going on, but it looks like (at the very least) the playlist has been opened up quite a bit…

     

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