Respected media consultant and reporter Tom Taylor [link] has been providing excellent coverage of the sale of KPLU to KUOW. He brought up an important question about the sale: What is the fate of KLPU’s 7 FM translators and 11 repeaters?
KUOW has three translators and repeaters itself but it will likely take advantage of the superior coverage provided by some of KPLU’s signals. KUOW GM Caryn Mathes told the Seattle weekly paper The Stranger:
“We'll put the content that was on KUOW-FM/94.9…we'll now spread that out and put it on some of those 11 frequencies that KPLU has. We'll take their 11, our three, and look at the map and reapportion what content goes on which of those fifteen, and try to get full service to everybody in the area.”
KUOW’s new excess of FM translators creates the possibility that some signals may be leased or sold to commercial broadcasters for considerable financial gain. FM translators can repeat either commercial and noncom stations. This might create a windfall for KUOW.
TRANSLATOR VALUE CASE STUDY: K-BUD IN DENVER
We have been reporting on Denver’s pot-rock station K-BUD FM/AM and the recent sale of FM signal, an FM translator at 94.1 to iHeartMedia for $950,000. Marco Broadcasting, owners of K-BUD held the license for only six months. They are walking away with over $100,000 in cash.
Noncommercial broadcasters should be aware that 94.1 began as a noncom repeater. Along the way speculators changed it to a commercial repeater. Because the demand for FM signals is so great, and sale prices are so high, it is tempting for other noncom translator owners to cash in now while demand is hot. Here is the timeline of translator K231BQ.
• MARCH 2004
FCC grants a Construction Permit to Douglas Johnson from Colorado Springs for K231BQ to repeat noncommercial KTLF-FM on 92.1 FM serving Estes Park, Colorado.
• 2004 – 2014
Operated as a noncommercial translator for KTLF.
• FEBRUARY 2014
Sold to for-profit broadcaster Victor Michael for $550,000. Michael also owns KDCO-AM, Golden.
• MARCH 2014
Victor Michael granted change of city of license to Golden, Colorado with a new frequency (94.1) and new coverage area including metro Denver.
• APRIL 2015
Victor Michael sells 94.1 (K231BQ) and 1550 AM to Marc Paskin d/b/a Marco Broadcasting for $850,000. Then, K-BUD debuts as Denver’s first pot-rock station.
OCTOBER & NOVEMBER 2015
• Marco Broadcasting sells 94.1 to iHeartMedia for $950,000. 94.1 now repeats KOA-FM.
• Marco Broadcasting sells 1550 AM to Chuck Lontine, a retired Denver investment banker and broadcasting entrepreneur, for $25,000. Lontine will repeat 1550 AM programming on FM translator K245AD which will become 96.9 The Cloud [link] in early 2016.