Bill Virgin's Radio Beat May 15, 2008

Includes archive of Bill Virgin's columns fromJ une 2006 - March 2009

Bill Virgin's Radio Beat May 15, 2008

Postby radiofan » Wed May 14, 2008 6:45 pm

On Radio: KKMO sale could mean loss of Spanish-language outlet

The winter quarter ratings book from The Arbitron Co. was a good one for Spanish-language radio in the Seattle-Tacoma market. Three such stations placed in the top 31 among all listeners.

Which adds an element of curiosity to Salem Communications Inc.'s recent decision to sell KKMO-AM/1360, marketed as Radio Sol.

According to a filing with the Federal Communications Commission, Salem has agreed to sell KKMO, one of five AM stations it owns in this market, to Intelli LLC of San Jose, Calif., for $3.69 million.

Intelli's owner, Tron Do, currently buys six hours of programming a day on a station in San Jose owned by Multicultural Programming Radio (which owns KXPA-AM/1540 in Seattle).

Neither Tron Do nor his attorney was available for comment on what the station's format might be after the sale.

Amador Bustos, whose Sacramento, Calif.-based company owns AM and FM Spanish-language stations in the Seattle market, says the San Jose station is almost entirely Vietnamese and Asian programming, and "probably that's the eventual format of (KKMO)." Though Bustos says that's an "educated guess," the record of the buyers would suggest "they don't have the experience or inclination" to do Spanish-language broadcasting.

Neither, it would appear, does Salem. While the Camarillo, Calif.-based company declined comment, the company's emphasis in formats is conservative talk and religious programming. That fits the profile of three of its remaining AM stations in Seattle -- conservative-talk KKOL-AM/1300 and religious talk and instruction stations KGNW-AM/820 and KLFE- AM/1590. The other Salem station in the Seattle market is KDOW-AM/1680, which, like KKMO, is Spanish language, but Salem hasn't said what it plans to do with it.

Less competition in that segment would be good news for Bustos' properties -- KDDS-FM/ 99.3 and KTBK-AM/1210 -- especially given the economic climate and its effect on advertising purchases.

Bustos says Spanish-language radio is holding up better than the industry generally. "We are clearly seeing a slowdown," he says, but Spanish-language radio is still able to produce single-digit percentage increases, while many general-audience outlets are seeing declines.

Major reasons for that, he says, are growth in the Latino/Hispanic market and advertisers getting more comfortable with buying on Spanish-language outlets, especially when Arbitron ratings demonstrate listenership (KDDS, KKMO and KTBK all had enough of an audience to show up in Arbitron's rankings). "We're educating advertisers and bringing them around," he says. "Advertisers are going to want to market to people who are consuming. Demographics is an inescapable fact."

In other radio notes:

The winter-quarter ratings for noncommercial stations in the Seattle-Tacoma market are out, and by combining them with the previously announced Arbitron data for commercial stations, we have a revised winner: KUOW-FM/94.9, which finished well ahead of KUBE-FM/93.3, the top-rated commercial station. KPLU-FM/88.5 finished 12th in the market in the combined table.

Dorsey Dunn performs on "Sonarchy" at midnight Saturday on KEXP-FM/90.3.

The Sunday edition of Jim French's "Imagination Theatre," heard at 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday on KIXI-AM/880, includes a new "Harry Nile" mystery.

P-I reporter Bill Virgin can be reached at 206-448-8319 or

Bill Virgin's Radio Beat, Thursdays in the Seattle P-I
Those who danced were thought to be quite insane by those who couldn't hear the music.
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