Media, Printing & Graphics  July 16, 2015

Longmont radio station part of 3-way ownership swap

LONGMONT — A radio station that has been broadcasting for 51 years from a 144-foot tower near 17th Avenue and Hover Street in Longmont is among several Denver-area stations to be acquired by Salt Lake City-based Bonneville International Corp. as part of a complicated transaction required to meet federal rules.

KKFN-FM, a 96,000-watt sports-talk station branded as “104.3 The Fan” that serves Denver and the Front Range but is licensed to Longmont, had been owned by Lincoln Financial Media.

In December, Bala Cynwyd, Pa.-based Entercom Communications Corp. (NYSE: ETM) announced that it had entered into an agreement to acquire KKFN’s owner, Lincoln Financial Media, from Radnor, Pa.-based Lincoln National Corp. (NYSE: LNC) for $105 million — $77.5 million of it in cash and $27.5 million in stock — plus working capital. However, Lincoln also owned five other full-power stations in the Denver market as well while Entercom already owned four. As reported Dec. 9 in BizWest, because of FCC rules that went into effect with the Telecommunications Act of 1996, a single company can own a total of only eight full-power signals in a market, so Entercom would have to sell or shut down one in the Denver area.

To meet that requirement, Entercom has sold its light-rock KOSI-FM 101.1 plus some other stations it acquired from Lincoln, including KKFN as well as country-music KYGO-FM 98.5 and sports-talk KEPN-AM 1600, to Bonneville. That company, which has broadcast properties in Salt Lake City, Phoenix and Seattle, is owned by Deseret Management Corp., a for-profit unit of the Mormon church – officially known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

In exchange, Entercom will get a classic-rock station Bonneville owns in Los Angeles plus $5 million in cash.

Entercom will keep several other Denver-area stations it already owned: adult contemporary KALC-FM 105.9, classic rock KQMT-FM 99.5 “The Mountain” and adult standards KEZW-AM 1430, as well as other stations it acquired from Lincoln including oldies music KRWZ-AM 950 and urban-oriented contemporary hits KQKS-FM 107.5, and KYGO’s low-power “HD-2” translator K276FK, which broadcasts on 103.1 FM and carries nonstop stand-up comedy routines.

The transaction expands Entercom’s station portfolio to more than 130 stations in 26 markets, including historic 50,000-watt WWL-AM 870 in New Orleans. Bonneville’s properties include its 50,000-watt flagship, KSL-AM 1160 in Salt Lake City.

Federal regulators raised questions about the deal, especially involving the Denver market. On Tuesday, the Justice Department filed an antitrust lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to block the deal, but offered the three-way station swap as a potential settlement if the court approves.

Entercom reportedly expects the deal to close in a few days, after which Bonneville would begin operating KKFN and the other Denver-area stations it acquired. However, an Entercom spokesman said the actual ownership of the stations involved in the transaction probably wouldn’t officially change until late this year.

The Longmont station involved in the deal made its debut in 1964 as KLMO-FM, sister station to KLMO-AM 1060, now Catholic talk KRCN. The late Bill Stewart and his wife, Lila Jean Stewart – 2014 inductees into the Boulder County Business Hall of Fame – ran KLMO from 1959 to 1998, and KLMO-FM was sold to Lincoln for $5.5 million in 1986.

The philanthropy-minded Stewarts have been major donors to local nonprofits such as the Tiny Tim Center. In June, Lila Stewart oversaw the ribbon cutting for the 250-seat Stewart Auditorium and Swan Atrium at the Longmont Museum and Cultural Center, for which the Stewart Family Foundation donated most of the $4 million cost. The foundation also donated millions of dollars to the Sustainable Excellence Initiative at the University of Colorado Boulder, a major upgrade of the athletic facilities to Pac-12 Conference standards.

LONGMONT — A radio station that has been broadcasting for 51 years from a 144-foot tower near 17th Avenue and Hover Street in Longmont is among several Denver-area stations to be acquired by Salt Lake City-based Bonneville International Corp. as part of a complicated transaction required to meet federal rules.

KKFN-FM, a 96,000-watt sports-talk station branded as “104.3 The Fan” that serves Denver and the Front Range but is licensed to Longmont, had been owned by Lincoln Financial Media.

In December, Bala Cynwyd, Pa.-based Entercom Communications Corp. (NYSE: ETM) announced that it had entered into…

Dallas Heltzell
With BizWest since 2012 and in Colorado since 1979, Dallas worked at the Longmont Times-Call, Colorado Springs Gazette, Denver Post and Public News Service. A Missouri native and Mizzou School of Journalism grad, Dallas started as a sports writer and outdoor columnist at the St. Charles (Mo.) Banner-News, then went to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch before fleeing the heat and humidity for the Rockies. He especially loves covering our mountain communities.
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