Ohio noncom shifts AM gears in Columbus


St. Gabriel Radio Inc. had an LMA/option under which it was running, and eventually planning to acquire WVKO-AM 1580. Instead, it has cut a deal with The Ohio State University to pick up WOSU-AM.

Both stations are licensed to Columbus OH, and both put a decent signal over the city. However, 820 kHz WOSU, with 5 kW-D and 790 W-N, adds a great deal of turf beyond the yellow part of the map that 1580 kHz WVKO is less able to reach with its 3.2 kW-D, 290 W-N signal.

St. Gabriel will be paying extra for the additional coverage – the WOSU deal is for $2M cash. WVKO, which it was running under an LMA contract inked 12/15/08, was to cost $1.5M. The LMA will terminate when St. Gabriel’s acquisition of WOSU is complete.

The broadcast days of OSU will continue unabated after the deal – its portfolio still will have six full-power FMs and a pair of full-power television stations.

St. Gabriel also owns WFOT-FM Lexington OH, which is not a part of the Columbus market.

Until recently, St. Gabriel was the license of a pair of FM CPs – WTJM-FM CP South Webster OH and WEWH-FM Washington Court House OH. Unfortunately, like many small broadcast licensees these days, it was unable to get them constructed within the three-year deadline, and the FCC’s 18-month CP extension policy went by the boards over the summer due to a court order forcing the FCC to rethink its diversity policy.

RBR-TVBR observation: St. Gabriel is another damaged victim of a well-meaning judge invoking the law of unintended consequences. The FCC is under court order to rethink its 18-month CP extension policy, and the cost to this company is the time and expense it has already put into trying get two CPs up and running.

Prospective radio licensees did not create the economic conditions that are making it difficult to start up a business. It would have been nice if the court order had included some provisions to avoid harming those that were relying on the extension to try and bring their efforts to fruition.