Word Up: Salem Shifts Control Of Three-Station Cluster

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“Salem rarely leaves a market.”


Those are the words of Salem Media Group CEO Ed Atsinger, who notes that his company’s primary desire is who have its “unique formats” continue to serve the needs of audiences in the cities where it has AM and FM stations.

That’s what makes this business arrangement a bit noteworthy.

The multimedia company specializing in Christian and conservative content is exiting a market, but only in terms of day-to-day operation.

In an announcement made Thursday (12/22), Atsinger confirmed that it has agreed to transfer the operation of its three Louisville, Ky., stations to Word Broadcasting Network under a Local Marketing Agreement.

The agreement is scheduled to become effective January 3, 2017.

The stations are as follows:

  • Class D Christian Talk & Teaching WFIA-AM 900, a two-pattern facility with 1 tower broadcasting with 930 watts during daylight hours and 162 watts by night
  • Class A Christian Talk & Teaching WFIA-FM 94.7, licensed to New Albany, Ind., with 3.3 kw at 394 feet
  • Class B Talk WGTK-AM 970 “The Answer,” a two-tower, two-pattern facility with 5kw day/night

Word owns and operates 12 religious-themed radio stations, a short wave facility, and WBNA-Channel 21 in Louisville. WBNA features iON Television Network programming on Channel 21.1; HD multicast offerings are comprised of GetTV, GOD, retro tv, Decades, and Heroes & Icons.

Word also owns WBN – The Revival Channel, presented by Jesus Is Lord Ministries International, which airs 24/7 ministry and religious-focused programming.

In a statement, Atsinger explained, “This agreement is unique in that Word Broadcasting is like-minded with us in shared mission, shared values, and passion for our formats.”

He added that discussions between Word and Salem aren’t new.

“For some time our two organizations have discussed how we could consolidate our respective operations in the interest of greater stewardship of our resources,” Atsinger said. “We believe this agreement sets the stage to achieve that objective of increased service to our audiences and stakeholders.”

Salem acquired WGTK in August 2000 from Hearst-Argyle; WFIA-FM took on its present format in Sept. 2002, after a format change from Rhythmic Oldies WLSY-FM “Soul 94.7” and, prior to that, AC WRVI-FM “The River” under then-owner Cox Radio.

WFIA-AM has aired inspirational programming since at least Sept. 1967, when Broadcasting magazine profiled the Louisville market and noted the station describes itself as the area’s “exclusive religious-patriotic station.”

This is not Salem’s first step in reducing its operations in Louisville. In August 2008, the company sold what is now WAYK-FM 105.9 to WAY-FM Media Group for $3 million.

 


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Adam R Jacobson is a veteran radio industry journalist and advertising industry analyst with general, multicultural and Hispanic market expertise. From 1996 to 2006 he served as an editor at Radio & Records.

1 COMMENT

  1. Evidently, the Salem formatted stations couldn’t break-even in that market. K-Love has likely captured the Christian audience there.

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