EMF Sets New Call Letters For Cumulus/Aloha Acquisitions; WRQX Moves To…

Mix 107.3 WRQX Washington DC K-Love WSOM Jack DiamondWith Educational Media Foundation set to close on its acquisitions of ten stations from its deals with Cumulus and iHeartMedia’s Aloha Stations Trust at the end of this week, the company has reserved new call letters for the majority of the stations.

We have known since the Cumulus deal was filed with the FCC that the seller would be retaining the call letters of what is now Hot AC “Mix 107.3” WRQX Washington DC, with the expectation that the intellectual property would be sold to another operator in the market. However with less than five days until EMF takes over no deals have been announced nor has WRQX said anything on-air about its potentially impending demise. While it is still possible that Cumulus comes to a deal with someone to acquire the WRQX IP, time is running out and for now the call letters will be headed to what is now Classic Country 600 WSOM Salem OH. Those WSOM calls will head to Washington temporarily until EMF replaces them the following week.

EMF will retain the call letters of 95.5 WPLJ New York and 105.9 WXTL Syracuse from the Cumulus deal and 102.3 WEKL Augusta GA from the iHeart/Aloha deal. The remainder of the new call letters applied for are:

  • 97.7 KFFG Los Altos/San Jose CA -> KJLV
  • 106.7 WYAY Gainesville/Atlanta GA -> WAKL
  • 102.1 WZAT Savannah GA -> WKZV
  • 107.1 WLRX Ironton OH/Huntington WV -> WAWT
  • 101.7 WSNZ Lynchburg VA -> WAWX
  • 106.1 WSFF Vinton/Roanoke VA -> WLRX

Two of EMF’s current holdings will also change call letters in the process as 88.9 WAKL Flint MI gives up its call letters to Atlanta and will become WKMF and 105.3 KJLV Hoxie AR trades its to San Jose and will become KLFJ.

INSTANT INSIGHT: It will still be a shock to us if the WRQX call letters and “Mix” IP do NOT end up on another station in the Washington market. The brand is too strong to just die and the format hole too great in the market. From those we’ve spoken too, it seems like this will be a matter of who blinks first between Cumulus and Entercom. Cumulus is surely seeking to monetize the assets as much as possible, but if there’s only one suitor and with time running out to start promoting a shift to the audience each minute that goes by dilutes the value of the brand.

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  1. Bob cavanaugh says

    I’m listening to WRQX right now, and an announcement was just made saying that Jack Diamond had an important announcement about his show tomorrow morning at 7.

  2. Les Talk says

    1. Mix goes away. Completely.
    2. Entercom flips 94.7 back to hot a/c.
    3. Entercom sells 99.1/107.9 to K-Love for 107.3. Mix stays put.
    4. Cumulus leaves the market entirely. Hubbard makes several switches and a sale to get WMAL, the IP of Mix 107.3. WTOP gets even more exposure as the news “partner” for WMAL. Mix ends up on a new home.
    5. K-love purchases 92.5, 101.5, 98.3, 103.1 to add four more frequencies for K-Love. K-Love will surround the DC area with Air One, K-Love Classics, K-Love Preaching, K-Love Classic Preaching. Hot will be the only station within the area to hear current pop music.

    # 2 is my guess. But who knows?

    1. Nathan Obral says

      #1 is increasingly likely and the safe bet.

      #2 will be a shock. WIAD is a long-term project for Entercom that they’d be foolish to give up.

      #3 is 100% not going to happen in any way. EMF is getting 107.3 on Saturday at 12:01 and they won’t give it up for just a much lesser signal like 99.1 or 107.9. No way, no how.

      #4 is a certainty. Cumulus sold off 107.3 because they cannot compete with just it and WMAL, no matter how they perform. The creditors who control the company after it reemerged from bankruptcy want their money in due time. WMAL 630/105.9 will be sold as a combo.

      #5 basically happened in Chicago.

    2. radioguy911 says

      KLOVE doesn’t have preaching; it’s all music. Where did you come up with the idea that it has preaching?

      1. Nathan Obral says

        Because it’s non-comm, thrives almost entirely on the financial support of listeners, took advantage of what became a lucrative market in FM translators, and is the only – the ONLY – buyer on hand flush with cash in the industry.

        Most people critical of KLove likely have never heard the format. I’m pretty sure that Jack Diamond has, he’s clearly critical of it in a technical and industrial aspect.

        1. radioguy911 says

          This Les Talk person doesn’t know what he’s talking about regarding K-LOVE because EMF only has three networks: KLOVE, Air1 and KLOVE Classics and they are all “music” Christian genres. As regards to money, NPR is always asking for $$ while the EMF stations only has a 10 day pledge drive twice a year. Also, NPR receives grants from the government; EMF and other non-com Christian stations don’t. But you don’t hear the bashing to NPR; it’s only Christian stations and always the “big” stations.

          1. Nathan Obral says

            I consider EMF to be a major success story and a sign that centralized non-commercial network programming can work in the US. “NPR” is a catch-all for public radio stations, none of which have anything close to an identical lineup and have varying degrees of local content, be it from local newscasts to originating programs distributed by either NPR or PRI (not to mention a few other smaller syndication services). It’s nothing close to unified brand or a national program lineup.

            As for K-Love being on all sides of the broadcast spectrum, blame Docket 80-90 for that. Too many FM stations got set up at one time (and a lot of them eventually moved into nearby cities), glutting the market. Taking some of the 92-108 stations off the table by flipping to KLove or Air1 was and is a necessary correction.

  3. elcartero says

    And then there’s that rumor hanging in the air that Entercom will make a deal to buy, or arrange a swap with Salem to get WAVA 105.1, and thus a full-market signal to move Hot AC back into the market cutting out Cumulus entirely. Salem’s stock price hasn’t been doing so hot lately so it’s plausible they’d unload it (at least in exchange for something like 99.1), but WAVA is kind of their crown jewel alongside the Fish network. So we’ll have to see about that.

    1. Charles Everett says

      Salem Communications’ M.O. is acquire to hold, not to flip. Nobody under 30 remembers when WAVA was CHR or even Album Rock.

      More importantly, Salem’s Evangelical and Conservative formats have a receptive audience in Washington, especially with the government of the day.

      1. Nathan Obral says

        Salem DOES sell stations occasionally. But it’s entirely because they have a opportunity to upgrade the home of their specialized formats. To wit, what is now WSPZ 1260 was recently sold off to Relevant Radio as it was superfluous and no longer necessary, it had been simulcasting WAVA after “1260 The Answer” moved to the superior 570 signal (along with the WWRC calls).

        WAVA is the true moneymaker for Salem in Washington DC. They’d be insane to sell it for any amount. No amount is enough.

        1. Les Talk says

          1260 is now WQOF. Unsure, what those calls are supposed to mean, if anything.

          1. Eric Jon Magnuson says

            It’s likely a “Queen of…” reference to Mary. Jacksonville’s WQOP is specifically branded as “Queen of Peace Radio”.

          2. Nathan Obral says

            Queen of Fatima, perhaps?

  4. Nathan Obral says

    It honestly wouldn’t surprise me if the Mix IP just dies on Friday with no one picking it up. The Washington DC market went without CHR for many years after WAVA was sold to Salem (if you count the rimshot suburban simulcast of Z104, four years … if you don’t, it took nine years until Hot 99.5 finally surfaced).

    There’s really no “weak” station under Entercom has that is worth giving up. Even 94.7 is a worthy long-term project filling an obvious classic hits hole, and 99.1 is making good money from Bloomberg’s leasing.

  5. Nathan Obral says

    A “farewell” banner with the silhouette of a broken heart is now on the front page of WRQX’s website.

  6. Les Talk says

    Well after listening to the announcement at 7 … that confuses me more than ever. “The Jack Diamond Morning Show isn’t going anywhere.”

    So the new owner of the IP, isn’t ready to announce it yet?

    Or Jack Diamond goes internet only?

    He lashed out at non-local, non-public interest serving stations plugging in 24/7 satellite formats 92.1 and above. I could not possibly agree with him more.

    Also, it seemed as if he was making a case for a deal to be finalized elsewhere. Citing ratings of the DC area showing they are the #1 non-urban, non-talk morning show.


    1. Nathan Obral says

      Jack Diamond will likely continue his show online with much of his support staff in lieu of being on a commercial radio station.

    2. Nathan Obral says

      Unpopular opinion: the 88-92 non-comm rule is outdated and unnecessary.

  7. nick says

    I’d have liked to see 95.5 get the call letters WKLJ as a homage to WPLJ

    1. Nathan Obral says

      EMF is not “destorying” radio history. And they opted to retain the WPLJ calls even though they didn’t need to.

  8. Nathan Obral says

    WSOM 600 Salem is now branding as “AM 600 WRQX” …

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