And by "isn't going anywhere", we mean "isn't being sold".
In a move we first saw reported today by AllAccess, an application has been filed with the FCC to return top 40 WAKS/96.5 Akron - the Cleveland market "Kiss FM" outlet - to Clear Channel, along with a number of stations in similar situations.
WAKS and the other stations had been flipped to the Aloha Station Trust, a holding company which was charged (in principle) with selling the stations to other companies so Clear Channel could comply with ownership caps after its sale to private equity firms. The sale triggered the caps, since many of the markets were grandfathered over the caps.
The wording from the AllAccess item:
In each case, the stations have been reassigned by ARBITRON to different markets (KFSO from FRESNO to VISALIA-TULARE-HANFORD, WAKS from CLEVELAND to AKRON, KTEG from ALBUQUERQUE to SANTA FE, KYRK from NEW ORLEANS to BATON ROUGE, WJRR from ORLANDO to MELBOURNE-COCOA BEACH-TITUSVILLE) and the two year waiting period for redesignation to be effective has expired.
Or, to quote the application filed in the WAKS case - which we found in the FCC database attached to one of the other station's applications: (warning, all upper case ahead):
AS DEPICTED IN EXHIBIT 11, THE ASSIGNEE IS AN INDIRECT SUBSIDIARY OF CLEAR CHANNEL COMMUNICATIONS, INC. (CLEAR CHANNEL). ACQUISITION OF THE SUBJECT STATIONS BY THIS CLEAR CHANNEL SUBSIDIARY COMPLIES WITH THE COMMISSIONS RADIO OWNERSHIP LIMITS AS FOLLOWS:
WAKS(FM), AKRON, OH
ON JANUARY 11, 2009, THE REDESIGNATION OF WAKS(FM), AKRON, OH FROM THE CLEVELAND, OH ARBITRON MARKET TO THE AKRON, OH MARKET WILL BECOME EFFECTIVE FOLLOWING THE EXPIRATION OF THE TWO-YEAR WAITING PERIOD.
THE AKRON, OH MARKET CONTAINS 15 FULL-POWER RADIO STATIONS. SEE BIA REPORT: AKRON, OH. IN MARKETS WITH BETWEEN 15 AND 29 FULL-POWER RADIO STATIONS, SECTION 73.3555(A) OF THE COMMISSION'S RULES ALLOWS COMMON CONTROL OF SIX RADIO STATIONS, NOT MORE THAN FOUR OF WHICH ARE IN THE SAME SERVICE.
CONSEQUENTLY, THE TRANSACTION PROPOSED HEREIN WILL COMPLY WITH THE COMMISSION'S OWNERSHIP RULES BECAUSE, FOLLOWING THE ACQUISITION OF WAKS, CLEAR CHANNEL WILL OWN FOUR RADIO STATIONS IN THE AKRON MARKET (TWO FM AND TWO AM).
(We've added some spacing to make it easier to digest.)
The "two FM" signals, of course, includes hot AC WKDD/98.1, which recently adopted a COL change from Canton to the Akron suburb of Munroe Falls...though it'd been attributed in the Akron market even before that change.
In all of this activity, WAKS didn't move an inch.
It's still physically a part of the Clear Channel cluster at Oak Tree in the Cleveland suburb of Independence, and has operated there even while being under the Aloha Station Trust. (That's pretty standard procedure, as those trusts generally are not operating companies.)
With the redesignation of 96.5 Akron back into the Akron market, WAKS will continue status quo out of Oak Tree, and can bury the Akron COL all it wants, and shout "Cleveland" to the heavens if it wishes.
It'll continue to broadcast from its transmitter site in Brecksville, a hair north of the Cuyahoga County-Summit County line near the I-77/Rt. 21 exit of the Ohio Turnpike.
The only effect of all of this?
Clear Channel can hang onto the station, and won't be forced to sell it to another operator, assuming this application is approved (which it will likely be, at the end of the Arbitron waiting period in January).
As we've talked about here extensively, selling large market radio stations has become nearly impossible, given the credit crunch and the end of all of those debt-laden, highly leveraged transactions that fueled a radio buying spree for years.
It's a buyer's market for radio stations, as CBS Radio continues to be interested - as far as we know - in selling its sub-top 10 market stations, including Cleveland's four FM cluster.
But...who's able to buy? That answer is almost no one, and even the cash-rich groups that aren't heavily in debt seem to be waiting for super, sub-basement deals and for an improved economy.
CBS Radio had some sniffs at its stations, but it would appear no one has met the price level the company hoped to get...