June 1 is the date Educational Media Foundation will assume operations of six radio stations the religious broadcaster is purchasing from Cumulus Media for $103.5 million in cash. In what appears to be the start of a local marketing agreement ahead of the official closing date, EMF is expected to place its contemporary Christian music formats, “K-Love” or “Air 1” on the signals beginning next month.
With the impending takeover, May 31 has been designated as “sign off day” for hot AC WPLJ New York (95.5), hot AC “Mix 107.3” WRQX Washington, “Talk 106.7” WYAY Atlanta, “K-Fog” KFFG (97.7) San Jose (which simulcasts KFOG San Francisco), hot AC “102.1 The Sound” WZAT Savannah and classic rock “The Rebel 105.9” WXTL Syracuse.
No word on the official closing date of the deal, with Cumulus saying the sale remains on track to close in second quarter.
WPLJ was first to announce its sign-off date, with “Todd & Jayde” breaking the news to listeners the morning of May 8. A reunion of station employees, past and present, organized by former ‘PLJ programmer Tom Cuddy takes place May 21, 6-9pm at the Cutting Room on East 32nd Street in Manhattan. WPLJ is also selling limited edition commemorative t-shirts through the station’s online store.
WRQX PD Rob Roberts, who doubles as Cumulus VP of hot AC, told Inside Radio that “Mix 107.3” will also sign off May 31 and “turn the keys over to [EMF] midnight Saturday, June 1.”
The Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Rodney Ho said WYAY believed it would have more time before pulling the plug on the fledgling talk station, “but the new owners Education Media Foundation have finalized any technical issues and will be ready to switch to its nationally syndicated K-Love Christian pop format on 106.7 June 1,” Ho writes. The new “K-Love” affiliate in Atlanta will try and peel away listeners from market leader, Salem Media Group contemporary Christian “Fish 104.7” WFSH, which jumped from fifth to first in the just released April PPMs, posting a 7 share (6+).
As earlier reported by Inside Radio, “The Rebel” will continue as an online only streaming station at TheRebelRocks.com. “Thanks to Cumulus Syracuse, I’ll be programming the station using the same studio, resources and sales team we currently use,” PD Dave Frisina wrote on Facebook.
June 1 will almost certainly be a day of competing stations welcoming new listeners aboard who’ve been disenfranchised by the flips. Among the three major markets, the end of “Mix 107.3” WRQX Washington creates the biggest hole. The station posted a 3.5 (6+) in Nielsen’s April survey and market No. 7 currently has no other hot AC outlet.