EMF Goes Fishing For Hawaii, Nashville Homes With Salem Deal

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By Cameron Coats and Adam R Jacobson


Salem Media Group is leaving Music City and taking its “Fish” with it. At the same time, it is saying Aloha to O’ahu.

According to sale documents filed with the FCC, the multimedia Christian-themed broadcasting company that’s also home to conservative secular Talk stations and a Classic Hits FM in Honolulu is divesting its three Nashville signals carrying “The Fish” and its Hawaiian property that is also branded with the company’s Christian Contemporary Music format.

Who’s buying the Salem properties in Nashville and Honolulu? Educational Media Foundation, the parent of the nationally distributed KLOVE and Air1 CCM formats, with the latter focused on worship music.

A $7 million sale price was agreed upon, and it includes the tower for two of the three Nashville properties.

Pending FCC approval, EMF will become the parent of the following properties:

  • Class A WFFH-FM 94.1 in Smyrna, Tenn., covering the southern metropolitan area of Nashville
  • Class A WBOZ-FM 104.9 in Woodbury, Tenn., serving Murfreesboro and areas to the southeast of Smyrna
  • Class A WFFI-FM 93.7 in Kingston Springs, Tenn., covering western portions of greater Nashville
  • 100kw Class C KAIM-FM 95.5 in Honolulu

A $350,000 escrow deposit has been made and is being held by broker of record Jorgenson Broadcast Brokerage, led by veteran station trader Mark Jorgenson. Jorgenson represented Salem in the deal.

In Nashville, WBOZ, WFFH, and WFFI would join EMF’s Nashville-area WLVU-FM 97.1, licensed to Belle Meade, Tenn.; it is a KLOVE Member station. With EMF’s K-LOVE studios and offices now located nearby in Franklin, Tenn., EMF has yet to reveal how it will use the stations. W223BV at 92.5 MHz in Brentwood, Tenn., carries Air1. As such, Air1 could replace “The Fish” in Music City.

In O’ahu, the first commercial FM radio station in Hawaii and “The Fish” since 2000, Salem will remain the owner of six radio stations — including KKOL “Decades 107.9,” a secular offering.

EMF’s plans for KAIM? It could involve Air1, as KLUU-FM 103.5 is the home of KLOVE on O’ahu and K288FB at 105.5 MHz airs Air1.

Salem Media Group CEO David Santrella commented on the sale, saying in prepared comments, “Salem remains steadfast in our commitment to paying down debt and reducing our overall leverage. The sale of these radio stations helps achieve those goals. At the same time, we are focused on the stations staying in mission format. We are happy to be working with our good friends at EMF to continue impacting lives through music. We are grateful for our staff at these stations that have worked tirelessly over the years.”

Salem’s Today’s Christian Music (TCM) network is not affected by these sales.

On that note, Santrella continued, “With this change, Mike Blakemore, Salem’s VP of CCM Programming, will provide focus and leadership to programming TCM, which remains an important part of Salem’s content offerings.”

Salem expects to close on the sale of the stations in late May or early June.

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