The landscape of the Yakima Valley radio industry will see big changes in the next year, including change of ownership and the relocation and change in frequency for several stations.
Townsquare Media has an agreement with Seattle-based New Northwest Broadcasters to buy six stations each the Tri-Cities and Yakima, according to a news release from the Greenwich, Conn.-based company.
But FCC regulations limit the number of stations a company can own in one metropolitan area. So, Townsquare Media will retain half the stations and put the rest into a trust to be run by a third-party trustee and eventually sold to another company.
For New Northwest Broadcasters, the sale is a move toward satisfying creditors, said Alan Davis, a principal with Revitalization Partners, a Seattle-based company that has had temporary control of New Northwest Broadcasters since it entered into voluntary receivership this past spring.
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Davis would not reveal the purchase price or how much debt New Northwest Broadcasters owes. He did say that New Northwest Broadcasters is looking to sell other stations.
According to NNB's website, the lineup in the Tri-Cities includes KUJ Power 99.1, KIOK 94.9 FM The Wolf, KEGX 106.5 FM The Eagle, KTCR 1340 AM, KKSR 95.7 FUN FM and KALE 960 AM ESPN.
A call to New Northwest Broadcasters CEO Trila Bumstead was not returned this week.
The pending purchase must receive approval from both the Federal Communications Commission and King County Superior Court, where New Northwest Broadcasters' receivership was filed earlier this year.
The sale is expected to close by the first half of 2011. Until then, New Northwest Broadcasters will continue operation of its Yakima stations.
Once the sale is finalized, Townsquare Media will retain country stations KXDD and KDBL, rock station KATS, adult hits station KRSE, news radio station KIT and ESPN affiliate KJOX. It will operate them out of its Yakima headquarters at 4010 Summitview Ave.
Potential revenue and listenership were the main factors in choosing which stations to retain, said Cheryl A. Salomone, Yakima market manager for Townsquare Media.
The remaining six stations will enter into the trust and will be broadcast from the New Northwest Broadcasters building at 1200 Chesterley Drive.
In addition, several stations will swap frequencies -- country music listeners will soon access The Bull on 107.3 FM while top 40 station KFFM, one of the stations that will be put into the radio trust, will broadcast on 92.9 FM, The Bull's previous frequency.
Sports fans soon will listen to KJOX on 1460 AM while country station KUTI, which will be part of the trust, moves to KJOX's previous frequency on 1390.
The swap is designed to give the two stations a stronger signal, Salomone said.
Salomone said she did not have details on how the changes would affect the staff of both companies as she has not talked to staff members of New Northwest Broadcasters.
"There's lots of opportunity and I want the best people," she said. "That's pretty much it."