Tuesday, August 05, 2008

WAKS Tabbed For Clear Channel Trust, Sale

We know it's been kicked around before, but the newly privatized Clear Channel is now officially listing one of the company's big FM signals in Cleveland to be sold due to regulatory concerns.

As expected, top 40 WAKS/96.5 Akron "Kiss FM" is on the list being moved into the Aloha Station Trust, where it and over 50 other stations nationwide will be set up for sale or trade.

WAKS was listed many months back by trade magazines as being a likely target for sale, figuring out that the privatization of Clear Channel would require the company to slim down in the Cleveland market by one station. The problem, of course, is that the ownership change of Clear Channel wiped out previously grandfathered and allowed stations above local market cap limits.

And of course, though WAKS is licensed to Akron, still, its presence in the Cleveland market is the problem...with an improved signal that covers all but the far fringes of the Cleveland market after "Kiss FM" moved off Lorain's 104.9, and 96.5 thus landed at Oak Tree.

We found the complete list on the Radio Ink website here.

And also listed are a handful of Clear Channel's Ohio stations...Dayton's top 40/rhythmic WDKF/94.5 Englewood "Channel 94.5" (the former "Kiss FM") and smooth jazz rimshot WDSJ/106.5 Greenville, along with Lima market classic rock WBUK/106.3 Ottawa "The Fox", the former oldies "Big Buck" that now carries the format formerly on ex-Clear Channel outlet WPFX/107.7 North Baltimore/Findlay.

Not on the list, because they won't be going into the Aloha trust and will be sold directly, are the previously reported WNNF/94.1 and WOFX/92.5 in the Cincinnati market.

So, here's where we are in the Cleveland radio market: as many as five large signal FM radio stations could be up for sale, with this move and with CBS Radio's presumed likely exit from Cleveland.

There are so many chess pieces moving around the market right now, we don't think even a chess Grand Master could keep track of them.

We're not going to speculate much here, except to remind folks...the news doesn't necessarily mean that the top 40 "Kiss FM" format is exiting Oak Tree. It only means that the 96.5 signal is headed out.

Though we have no information to suggest anything is underway to this regard, Clear Channel could well shuffle around the five FM formats and displace another station with "Kiss FM". It's still too early to hear those rumblings, though, so we're just pointing out that it's a possibility...


firebird said...

Clear Channel should just give the station to the WCLV Foundation so they can have a stronger signal. I never did understand why they had to be part of the Great Frequency Swap of 2001.

Who are potential buyers? CBS may be exiting the market. Media-Com can't even get their new website up, so it's doubtful they would spend the money. Rubber City? Possibly. Who else would want a stand alone FM?

Why would this Akron frequency be on the market and not the AM stations in area? It would make better sense to move 640AM to 96.5FM and dump 640 and 1350.

OMWFan said...

Any chance Craig Karmazin might want to buy 96.5?

Ohio Media Watch said...

firebird, the unsaid here is that the market for new station buyers is very much up in the air. Bottom line: these stations will all sell, but both Clear Channel and CBS Radio are not going to get nearly as much money for them as hoped.

That's why small groups like Stephens, Wilks and the like even have a shot at a full market Cleveland FM sticks.

OMWFan (thank you :): I figured someone would bring up that at some point.

Though the above is still true - the depressed sale market could nudge the price of 96.5 south - we see no evidence that Good Karma would be in the market for a full market FM stick.

Craig's usual MO is to pick up rimshots or lesser signals (AM or FM) and improve them to get better coverage. We can't see him shelling out cash for a full-market FM stick.

We could be wrong, though...

-The Management

Ohio Media Watch said...

And as we're kicking around buying groups, among the larger ones - Entercom, Bonneville and the like...

How about Cox?

Cox has long-standing Ohio ties in Dayton, and recently bought a cluster in Athens GA near its current base in Atlanta.

Would Cleveland be of interest to them? Maybe Dayton isn't close enough to be attractive as far as "synergy", but who knows...

Just a question/thought based on nothing other than our own speculation.

-The Management

JPF Law said...

"Why would this Akron frequency be on the market and not the AM stations in area? It would make better sense to move 640AM to 96.5FM and dump 640 and 1350."

Because the market caps are not total stations--though that figures in as well--but is further limited by band and market size (since the Arbitron-market base was adopted by the FCC a couple years ago).

Todd said...

Bonneville would be interesting, OMW... they're big on FM news/talk and could provide some competition for WTAM.