In order to gain regulatory clearance for its merger with CBS Radio, Entercom was required to divest 14 stations in Boston, Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle-Tacoma and Wilkes-Barre. When the historic merger closes today, the company will have a total of 19 stations divested and/or being programmed via LMA’s.
As part of the dealings, Entercom picks up complete clusters in Richmond, VA and Chattanooga, TN and a station in Boston that was not part of its deal with CBS.
In March, Entercom placed 43 stations in a trust and waited for the deals to arrive at its doorstep. And they came, with iHeartMedia, Beasley, Bonneville and Educational Media Foundation (EMF) all involved in transactions or agreements with Entercom.
EMF was the first to open the checkbook, buying three stations from Entercom for $57.75 million in a deal announced in September. The religious broadcaster’s biggest pickup was KSWD-FM (100.3) Los Angeles, which on Thursday November 16) ended its run as classic rock “The Sound.” EMF will air its contemporary Christian “K-Love” on the signal. South of LA, in San Diego, EMF gained KSOQ (92.1), which was a simulcast partner of Entercom’s “New Country 97” KSON.
KSON has swapped frequencies with the newly acquired CBS Radio CHR “Energy 103.7” KEGY, with rebranding in place for both stations as they are now known as “Energy 97.3” and “San Diego’s New Country 103.7 KSON.” “Energy 97.3” will be heard online only and commercial-free through the weekend as KSON uses the 97.3 signal to alert listeners of the new dial position. “Energy 97.3” hits the air Monday, Nov. 20 at 5am local time.
The final station that is part of the three-station purchase is WGGI (95.9) Wilkes-Barre, PA, which will drop its simulcast of Entercom’s “Froggy 101” WGGY and be another outlet for EMF’s “K-Love” network with fresh new calls of WKBP.
As expected, iHeartMedia joined in the divestiture dance, picking up four stations in Boston and three in Seattle from Entercom in exchange for four stations in Chattanooga and six in Richmond. In Boston, iHeartMedia adds “News Talk 1030” WBZ, classic rock WZLX (100.7), urban AC “The New 97.7” WKAF, and talk WRKO (680). They’ll join legacy iHeart stations CHR “Kiss 108” WXKS-FM (Boston’s top-rated station), rhythmic CHR “Jam’n 94-5” WJMN, country “101.7 The Bull” WBWL and business news “Bloomberg 1200” WXKS and “Talk 1430” WKOX.
In Seattle iHeart is receiving “The Fan 1090” KFNQ, adult hits “96.5 Jack FM” KJAQ and classic rock KZOK-FM (102.5). The three additions join the company’s Seattle cluster that includes hot AC “106.1 Kiss FM” KBKS-FM, sports KJR (950), classic hits “95.7 The Jet” KJR-FM, CHR “Power 93.3” KPWK, modern rock “Alt 102.9” KFOO and rhythmic CHR KUBE (104.9).
In order to comply with FCC ownership limits, iHeart has created the Ocean States Trust into which it will place three of its stations earmarked for sale: “Talk 1430” WKOX Boston and rhythmic CHR KUBE (104.9) and modern rock “Alt 102.9” KFOO in the Seattle market.
As part of the tax-free swap, iHeart will hand entire clusters in Richmond and Chattanooga to Entercom. In Richmond that includes news/talk WRVA (1140), modern rock “XL102” WRXL (102.1), AC “Mix 98.1” WTVR-FM, urban “106.5 The Beat” WBTJ, sports WRNL (910) and CHR “Q-94” WRVQ. The Chattanooga stations iHeart is trading to Entercom are CHR “103.7 Kiss FM” WKXJ, adult hits “98.1 The Lake” WLND, “Rock 105” WRXR-FM (105.5) and country “US-101” WUSY.
The deal between iHeart and Entercom calls for iHeart to begin operating WBZ, WZLX and WKAF in Boston the day after the CBS-Entercom merger closes. But it won’t begin operating WRKO and the three Seattle stations— KFNQ, KJAQ and KZOK-FM—until after its swap with Entercom closes.
In the Boston market, Beasley Media Group traded AC “Magic 106.7” WMJX plus $12 million in cash to Entercom for “98.5 The Sports Hub” WBZ-FM. The deal says an LMA of the stations will take effect the day after the big merger closes.
The final player in the spinoffs is Bonneville, which isn’t buying anything, but will operate four stations in San Francisco and four stations in Sacramento under a local marketing agreement, that begins once the merger closes.
Bonneville will keep watch over urban AC KBLX-FM (102.9), CHR “99.7 Now” KMVQ-FM, AC KOIT (96.5) and classic rock “98.5 K-Fox” KUFX in San Francisco. The Sacramento foursome includes, “CBS Sports Radio 1140” KHTK, “New Country 105.1” KNCI, AC “Mix 96” KYMX and hot AC “Now 100.5” KZZO.