Moody Radio is the latest broadcaster to sell off a group of AM stations with plans to use the proceeds to invest in more promising ways to distribute its content. The Christian radio network has announced three AMs are for sale, including historic flagship WMBI (1110) Chicago, which became the first noncommercial educational and religious radio station in 1926.
The sale of WMBI doesn’t mean Moody is pulling out of Chicago. It will continue to own and operate religious teaching WMBI-FM (90.1) in the Windy City. WMBI-AM, a daytime-only station, has been broadcasting Spanish religious programming since February 2012.
Religious teaching/contemporary Christian WDLM (960) East Moline, IL – another longtime set of call letters in the Moody portfolio – is also putting up the “for sale” sign. It serves the Quad Cities market of Davenport-Rock Island- Moline, broadcasting at 1,000 watts day, 102 watts night. Moody Radio is holding on to simulcast partner WDLM-FM (89.3) in the Quad Cities market.
The third AM up for grabs is religious teaching WGNR (1470) Anderson, IN, which broadcasts at 1,000 watts day, 36 watts night. WGNR-FM (97.9) Indianapolis will remain in the Moody stable.
‘Limitations Of AM’
In announcing the sale, Moody Radio Senior VP of Media Greg Thornton said the religious broadcaster recognizes “the limitations of AM broadcasting today, including the limitation on many AM stations to only broadcast in the daytime, as well as the dramatic rise in digital/online/mobile listening.” Thornton says listeners in the three markets will still hear Moody Radio broadcasting 24 hours a day “on our strong FM signals.”
Proceeds from the sale of the three AM licenses will be used “to further the expansion of Moody Radio and Radio Moody (Spanish), through the addition of digital/online content, new apps in both English and Spanish, and the acquisition of select FM broadcast licenses,” Thornton added. The Christian broadcaster has an ambitious goal to double its impact by 2030. “Our strategic road map to achieving this bold vision includes audience growth through market expansion/re-alignment, and content development strategies,” Thornton said.
Moody hasn’t announced plans to sell two other AMs in its roster: religious teaching WCDC (950) Charleston, SC, its only radio station in the state, or WFCN (1200) Nashville, where it also has an FM.
Parent Moody Bible Institute owns about 40 radio stations, 30 FM translators and six internet stations. Some 1,600 network affiliates also carry its programming.
The announcement makes Moody the latest broadcaster to scale back or exit the AM radio business. In June, ESPN said it would shut down its ESPN Deportes radio network Sept. 8, laying off 10 full-time and 25 part-time employees. The radio network airs on 44 affiliates, mostly AM stations, including stations in New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Houston, Fresno, El Paso, Denver, Washington, Chicago and Miami. ESPN parent Disney made a similar move in 2014, when it began to sell its 23 Radio Disney stations, keeping only KDIS, Los Angeles (1110) as the flagship for its now digital-centric, national Radio Disney brand.