To pay down debt and reduce its leverage ratio, Salem Media Group CEO Ed Atsinger told investors in March that the Christian media and conservative talk-focused company made a hit list of potential stations to sell. Today (July 17), the latest in a series of divestitures has been revealed. Salem has cut a $900,000 deal to sell talk “660 The Answer” WORL Orlando to JVC Media. The deal also includes the Oviedo, FL-licensed translator W288CJ at 105.5 FM.
The acquisition gives JVC Media a second station in market No. 31, where it already owns country “103.1 The Wolf” WOTW. JVC will operate WORL under a local marketing agreement starting Aug. 19 that stays in effect until closing. Once the sale is finalized, Salem will still own three stations in the area, including religious “The Word” WTLN (950), Spanish Christian “990 La Nueva Orlando” WDYZ, and business news “1520 The Biz” WBZW. Salem will retain WORL’s programming and it may switch the format to one of its other Orlando AMs.
The sale of WORL follows a $750,000 deal signed in March where Salem will part with WSPZ (1260), one of its stations in the Washington, DC market, to Immaculate Heart Media. Like WORL, WSPZ – which currently simulcasts religious teaching sister WAVA-FM (105.1) – appears to be one of the “non-core assets” Atsinger spoke about in broad strokes on the company’s fourth quarter earnings call.
“We’ve gone through our entire list of assets and we’ve identified those that are less strategic that we would be willing to sell,” Atsinger told investors then. “We’ve identified prices that would make sense for us; and if those properties can attract those kinds of prices, it’s very likely that we will do some sales.”
But even before making those remarks, Salem was pruning its portfolio. In November 2018, Salem closed the $1.375 million sale of contemporary Christian “100.7 The Fish” KGBI-FM Omaha, NE to the University of Northwestern-St. Paul. In July 2018, Salem entered into an agreement to sell religious teaching “The Word” KCRO (660) and talk “The Answer” KOTK (1420) Omaha-Council Bluffs to Hickory Radio. The sale also includes affiliated translators, the Omaha, NE-licensed K233CO at 94.5 and K293CJ at 106.5.
One month earlier it completed the $685,000 sale of Portuguese-language “Noosa Radio USA” WBIX (1260) Boston to the International Church of the Grace of God. That deal also included the related sale of a transmitter site and its three towers for $1.05 million, bringing the total price tag to $1.735 million. And in December 2017, Salem cut a $3.5 million deal to sell Spanish Religious “Radio Luz” WKAT (1360) and the Sebring-licensed translator W267BW at 101.3 in the Miami market to Nelson Voltaire’s Radio Piment Bouk.