The vibrancy of the Fort Wayne market, its Midwest location and the quality of independent radio ownership already here all figured in the decision by Adams Radio Group of Lakeville, Minn., to buy seven radio signals in the Summit City.
“I think this market has a lot of upside potential,” Ron Stone, Adams Radio president and CEO, said by phone Tuesday while in Fort Wayne to analyze local radio programming.
The sale, which still must receive Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approval, would include stations from both the Summit City Radio and Oasis Radio groups. Adams Radio is paying $2.9 million for the Summit Radio stations and $3.5 million for the Oasis Radio stations, Stone said.
He hopes the sale will close in May.
However, based on the size of the Fort Wayne market and number of radio stations here, Stone said FCC rules limit Adams to owning no more than a total of seven radio station signals. No more than four of those signals can be either AM or FM, so Adams plans trades with two Christian broadcasters in Fort Wayne.
After the sale and trading is done, Adams Radio will own:
•Country station WBTU, U.S. 93.3-FM
•Pop music WJFX, Hot 107.9-FM
•Oldies music WGL, Oldies 1250-AM
•Rock music WXKE, Rock 104 103.9-FM
•Pop music WNHT, Wild 96.3-FM
•WLYV, 1450-AM, which currently is owned by Redeemer Radio, the local Catholic radio station. In a trade, Redeemer Radio will receive the signal of 1990's pop music WHPP, Rewind 106.3-FM.
•The Fort Wayne translator signal owned by Calvary Radio Network of Valparaiso. In a trade, Calvary will receive oldies music WGL, Oldies 102.9-FM.
For Redeemer Radio, the FM signal will increase its coverage area by 40 percent to 50 percent, ranging from about Angola and Goshen to the north, Warsaw to the west and Huntington, Bluffton and Decatur to the south, said Dave Stevens, station executive director. In addition, it moves the station to the FM dial, where 75 percent of radio listening takes place.
Redeemer Radio will continue to broadcast on 89.9-FM in Bryan, Ohio, a signal owned by the Bryan Knights of Columbus, Stevens said.
Adams Radio may use the translator to boost the signal coverage of one of its AM stations, Stone said, or it could be used to offer a high-definition broadcast of one of the FM stations. A translator typically broadcasts at a lower power and range than a full radio station signal.
Adams Radio plans to consolidate all of the stations into the Oasis Radio building at 9604 Coldwater Road, Stone said. The company hopes to sell the Summit City offices at 2000 Lower Huntington Road.
Combining stations from two companies in one location will result in some job losses because of job duplication, he said. Adams Radio plans to notify affected employees 30 days before the sale is completed.
Stone said his company will be analyzing the local radio market to decide whether it would benefit from changing the current broadcast format of any stations it is buying. He hopes to have those plans firmed up within a month.
Fort Wayne is the second market where Adams has bought stations in the past year.
After a long history in radio, the company sold off its stations beginning in the mid-1990s because of the high prices being paid for them, he said. At the time, the company owned stations only in the 50 largest radio markets.
Adams Radio re-entered the business last May by buying four stations serving Las Cruces, N.M., Stone said. Adams Radio, which hopes to own stations in six markets by the end of 2014, plans to focus on operating stations in communities in the Top 100-200 markets range.
Adams Radio intends to make its stations live, local and active in serving their communities, he said.