24 September 2005

AM ownership chart

To illustrate how difficult it may be to get a quality radio deal, I've assembled a chart that lists every Bay Area AM radio station, signal strength, owner, and other information. The stations in gray are not considered likely candidates for the A's due to existing programming incompatibilities or lack of signal, or previous history. The stations in blue appear to be the best candidates. That isn't to say it can't change - the sale of Disney/ABC and Susquehanna stations may alter the local radio landscape significantly. Click on the graphic to download or view a larger version.

An explanation of the data:
  • Power is listed in kilowatts (kW)
  • The FCC has a good explanation of station classes here.
  • Sale pending indicates that the station or its parent company is for sale.
  • Applied "xxkW-Day" or "xxkW-Night" indicates that the station has applied for an approval for signal boost. Because of the various issues involved, changes have to go through a lengthy review and commenting process.
The station candidates:
  • KSFO - Many of you may remember KSFO's lengthy run as the A's flagship. That ended when their format switched from oldies to talk. Last year KSFO started broadcasting Raiders games. KSFO may be interested in broadcasting the A's again, but that would be largely dependent on the sale of station as part of Disney's radio portfolio. KSFO is managed by KGO's Mickey Luckoff.
  • Both KNEW-910 and KQKE-960 (formerly KABL) had turns broadcasting the A's in the recent past. Both received complaints due to their weak signal. Both are owned by Disney and run out of Oakland. Both are also run by former KNBR helmer Bob Agnew. Either could be a candidate for the A's when the dust settles. KQKE may be more likely due to the financial status of the Air America network.
  • There's a good chance that KTCT (KNBR-1050) will stay as it is because of the numerous deals KNBR has with local teams. Having two stations reduces the chances of overlapping programming, but it's also expensive to fill in programming during other hours. The next owner may decide sooner or later to either reprogram or sell KTCT because it's too expensive to keep the status quo.
  • KNTS is a pretty small station out of the Peninsula. It probably won't be a player unless they get the FCC's approval to pump 50,000 watts 24/7. If they do, they'll move their transmitter to the other side of the bay in Hayward. Right now KNTS is mostly a talk station, but they have the most game broadcasts of any station other than KNBR, which makes them a potentially compelling candidate.
  • KMKY is the Radio Disney station targeted to kids and Disney aficionados. Since the station was more of a constant promotional tool for the mother ship than anything else, it's likely that the new owner wouldn't be interested in continuing the same format.
  • In May, Infinity converted former "young country" station KYCY into KYou Radio, the first station in the United States to broadcast podcasts. They ran into some legal difficulty soon after that, but as of now they're still kicking. Oddly enough, the station accepts podcasts, but does not make podcasts of its broadcasts available to the public . If the experiment fails, Infinity may look to sell since the station historically hasn't been much of a ratings powerhouse. Infinity also applied for a signal boost and transmitter move to the South Bay.
  • KLIV is a small news station out of San Jose. I can't see KLIV being a flagship station due to its limited range, but if the A's wanted to have lower power North Bay and South Bay stations to cover the entire Bay Area, it's a possibility.
The corporate suitors have some restrictions as dictated by the FCC. The most important one is that no one can own more than 8 stations in the same market or 5 of the same class in a single market. That has forced both Infinity and Clear Channel to make station swaps and sales for the sake of compliance. If one of those behemoths ends up buying either the Disney or Susquehanna properties, one or more stations just might become available. Another company considered a frontrunner is Citadel Broadcasting, which has stations in mostly smaller markets.


Georob said...

Do you know anything about KTRB 860 out of Modesto? They have supposedly applied to the FCC to move their transmitter to Livermore and become part of the Bay Area market. What their format and power would be I don't know, but as a "new" station, they might be a possibility.

And when people talk about Lew Wolff buying a station, is this just a fantasy? Could he do it and WOULD he WANT to do it? If he had other radio holdings I could see it, but otherwise no. Buying extended blocks of time on a station seems more likely, but how
much would that cost him?

What the A's need to do is find a relatively decent station that they could stay at for at least 10 years and then develop a good statewide network of affiliates. (I live in Fresno, and we have nothing)

And it can't be just games. We'd also need the extended pre- and post game talk shows. This is where KNBR has really marketed the Giants in my opinion. KFRC was really great in this respect because the music was on FM for those who didn't want baseball.

Even if we got on a 50K watt station, it really wouldn't mean much if all we got was the games and then back to regular programming. I can get that on Radio Merced!

Marine Layer said...

I've been looking at the KTRB application and it's interesting. They apparently want to have it both ways. The plans call for daytime facilities in the Sears Point area and east of Modesto, while nighttime would facilities would be in that Livermore location. The key is that all signals would be directional, with the Novato and Livermore transmitters pointed inward towards the Bay. KTRB is also interesting in boosting the signal at the Modesto/Oakhurst facility to 50kW, though that is on a different application and may come later down the line.

I don't think the A's need to buy a station. They should aim for at least an equity ownership stake in a station. It's not just good from a programming influence standpoint. It might allow the two entities to "hide" radio ad revenue, thereby reducing the A's revenue sharing payment and allowing the two to pocket the difference. It's not honest, but it's probably more commonplace than you'd think.

The network is extremely important. Surprisingly, the A's website lists more radio affiliates than the list in the 1996 media guide. The current list is inaccurate and paints a rosier picture than what's really out there. Not having either affiliates in either Sacramento or Fresno is a major issue.

Perhaps the most revealing change is the loss of TV affiliates. The A's used to have TV stations as far away as Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Medford, OR. Phoenix obviously went away when the D-Backs came to town. The A's only have 3 stations on the A's TV network: KICU, KMAX-Sac, and KAME-Reno. FSN covers the home broadcasts, but there's a huge gap in the schedule that simply isn't covered.

Anonymous said...

I live in Stockton, and though KMAX is listed as a Sacramento TV station, they don't televise A's games very frequently. Because I have DirecTV, I do not get channel 36. So, unless the game's on FSN, too bad for me.

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