Columbus Shakeup

UPDATE 7/1/10 10:13 PM: No, we haven’t signed LeBron James. We’re a few million, all of them, short of cap space, and LeBron wasn’t sure of our head coaching plans, though he liked the fact we’re in Northeast Ohio.

But seriously, thanks to Tim Feran at the Columbus Dispatch, we have some more details on this item, if not the NBA Free Agency Shuffle.

* WOSU Public Media is buying the 101.1 operation for $4.8 million $5.7 million, $2.5 million $2.25 million (sorry, typo on our part) up front and the rest paid over 20 years, according to the latest version of Feran’s article and an earlier article in the alt-paper “The Other Paper”.
* WWCD will be “operating” 102.5, “in a partnership” with owner WHIZ Media Group (aka Zanesville’s Southeastern Ohio Broadcasting System). They’ll also move the FM rights to the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets to the new frequency. The AM rights are on the Dispatch’s own “The Fan on AM”, WBNS/1460. The WWCD deal presumably still prevents Dispatch from putting the NHL team on the FM side of “The Fan”, WBNS-FM/97.1.
* Feran characterizes the new NPR-laden 89.7 programming, when classical music moves to 101.1, as a simulcast with WOSU’s AM side at 820.

Our original item is below…

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As it turns out, the recent flip of Clear Channel’s WRXS/106.7 “Radio 106.7” to 90s mix “Gen X Radio” is the quietest radio format news out of Columbus this week.

That’s because as your Primary Editorial Voice(tm) was actually in the Columbus market (for non-media reasons) on Wednesday, the announcements came fast and furious.

First, we learned from Ohio State University that the school’s WOSU Public Media operation is buying Fun With Radio LLC’s WWCD/101.1 Grove City, long-time home of the locally-owned “CD 101” alt-rock format.

Those who have been following the Mighty Blog of Fun(tm) weren’t surprised by the next move.

CD 101 at 102.5 Logo“CD 101” indeed confirmed the rumors, and the alt-rock format will move down the dial to the more powerful 102.5/Baltimore signal…with a simulcast of “CD 101” airing there starting at midnight tonight (Wednesday night/Thursday morning)…finally putting the poorly automated “Highway 102” country format somewhere on a computer in Zanesville out of its misery.

Thus, the “CD101at1025.com” domain name picked up earlier by Lance Venta and the RadioInsight net gnomes makes sense…the alt-rocker will be heard on both 101.1 and 102.5 until the fall.

That’s when the final shoe drops…when they take it over, Ohio State University will use 101.1 as a full-time classical music outlet, freeing up primary signal WOSU-FM/89.7 to become a full-time NPR news/talk station.

We presume it will sound much like WOSU(AM)/820 does now, which leaves open the question of what the WOSU folks will do with the AM signal in the fall.

There were no changes for us to observe in the few hours we were in Columbus.

102.5 won’t be flipping to the “CD 101” simulcast until midnight, though we heard an air personality on CD 101 this afternoon telling listeners to listen at midnight for a “very important event”. The air person didn’t give away the store, though the frequency change is on the CD 101 website.

As of yet, there are no FCC sales applications in the online database – either for the WWCD purchase by OSU, or for a WCVZ purchase by Fun With Radio. For that matter, we don’t know if Fun With Radio’s Roger Vaughan is buying WCVZ, or just leasing airtime or LMAing.

At “Gen X Radio”, we heard the early positioning, including one liner imploring listeners to “don’t tell a friend – they’ll find us on scan, anyway”, and promising music that meant something to the target listener’s life, even if they were wondering what they were thinking at the time.

As of mid-afternoon, they had not changed the WRXS calls to the coming WCGX, at least during the legal ID…

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8 Responses to Columbus Shakeup

  1. Victor Veigel says:

    What does this mean in terms of programming on the WOSU repeater stations. Will they carry classical music 24/7 or will they still carry some of the NPR and other shows they do now.

    • Well, Capital Public Radio in Sacramento CA moved the NPR programming from their classical/main outlet to one that runs NPR news programming during the day and jazz at night.

      CPR has several repeater stations, much like WOSU does.

      I think they all repeat the classical “former main” stations, but run “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered” in drive time (which KXPR, the main classical station, does not). That’d probably be a good bet for what WOSU will do…keep the repeaters basically with the same programming they have now, by using such a hybrid approach after 101.1 goes on.

      This is just a guess, as I have no idea what WOSU has in mind for the repeaters.

  2. Radio Buff says:

    Could this be the first step in a series of trades?

    I could see WOSU trading the 101.1 signal to Robb Case’s wife for WHKC, which has a stronger signal.

    • Would have to agree, but why would WOSU not buy 91.5 in the first place? Maybe Robb Case’s widow wouldn’t sell it to them.

      BTW, latest word out of WOSU is that they’ll convert WOSB/Marion to classical repeater of 101.1, which makes sense given 101.1’s southern signal. It won’t catch all of the territory 101.1 serves poorly, but will work for places like Delaware and Marion.

      Am trying to find out what they’re doing with the other WOSU repeaters. You could assume that they’ll repeat 89.7 post-change, but we’re trying to find out for sure.

    • Or maybe she wanted too much money for it, compared to the deal OSU got for 101.1.

      • Matt says:

        I am sure the reason OSU did not go after 91.5 is likely she is not wanting to sell it. I don’t hear any begathons or under writers on there but with all the national ministries I suspect she’s getting pay per inquiry out of the preachers she airs and that is enough to keep the lights on for a station that is pretty much a computer.

      • Radio Buff says:

        I don’t know, this is just speculation on my part but since WHKC is owned by a non-profit, that makes paying for the station problematic. If OSU were to buy the station, the purchase price would have to stay within the non-profit and continue to be used for non-profit purposes.

        I think it would be perfectly legal, however, for Ohio State to take over the entity that owns WHKC and then maybe pay Case a “consulting fee” of some kind where she ends up with 101.1. That would be the way she could legally convert a nonprofit signal to a commercial signal she owns.

        This kind of stuff happens all the time where farmers sell ground to the government and take a tax deduction as a “donation”. Although this is kind of the reverse of a donation to the government, I don’t see why this couldn’t happen if the parties wanted it to.

  3. Radio Buff says:

    I’m still trying to figure out Roger’s end game with 102.5.

    He is not buying it, if all the reports out there are to be believed. It sounds like he’s just LMAing or leasing. Will he eventually buy it, or is it just giving WHIZ Media Group some extra cash because no one will pay whatever price they are asking for 102.5?

    Remember, they upgraded and moved the thing when radio prices were a lot higher.

    And WOSU is paying just $2.5 million up front for 101.1, with the rest over 20 years! I bet the WHIZ folks were hoping for a few million more in cash, until the market fell apart, and still hope to get more for 102.5 than WOSU paid for 101.1, even the $5.7 million total.

    Since my pithy comments have been banned from Radio-Info, I will post my reply here. I rarely go to that site anymore anyway as it seems like they’ve banned most of the people with anything interesting to say.

    This story sounds very familiar, like a story I heard once before.

    It sounds like the story of 97-X, WOXY-FM in Oxford. Remember when they sold out and decided to become an “internet only” station at woxy.com? To paraphrase Sarah Palin, “How’s that workin’ out for ‘ya?”

    Sounds to me like Vaughan wanted to cash out and park his programming somewhere. Maybe he wasn’t getting a good return on his investment and now gets to run his station without much money being tied up in his investment by doing an LMA. So Roger Vaughan gains and his employees don’t get thrown out into the street. And maybe with a long-standing format and actual ratings, 102.5 becomes more saleable since they also have a studio to go along with the transmitter? Maybe the Litticks also gain.

    Just speculating.

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