Sunday, February 27, 2011

S.F. tidbit: 102.1 ad and the KUSF deal

As part of the deal that handed the University of San Francisco's license for the 90.3 FM frequency to the Classical Public Radio Network (owned by the University of Southern California), the classical format of 102.1 FM, KDFC, was moved to 90.3 FM (becoming noncommercial in the process). Entercom, which owns the license for 102.1, quickly began simulcasting its South Bay rock outlet, KUFX "The Fox." Today I saw the first TV ad for the now dual-frequency station.

TV ads for radio stations aren't that common any more, but they do catch the eyes of those whose ears aren't listening. In this case, Entercom had several million reasons for wanting to pump its audience numbers up. According to radio-info.com, Entercom paid $9 million to buy KUFX in early January 2011.
This is the kind of fill-in deal for Entercom that would've been done pretty naturally in the trading climate of 5-6 years ago. Its announcement now suggests that things might be turning - and that Entercom's feeling comfortable enough to do the deal.
In retrospect, we now see what gave Entercom that level of comfort. Only CPRN's solid offer to take over KDFC's classical format would have given Entercom the confidence to buy KUFX. CPRN's action cleared the way for Entercom to repurpose the 102.1 frequency for simulcasting to the San Francisco area that KUFX's South Bay transmitter couldn't reach. Only that expanded audience would have justified the high price Entercom paid for KUFX.

That wasn't Entercom's only recent investment, by the way. It's touting the addition to KUFX's DJ linuep of "Big Rick" Stuart, a popular local radio personality who until recently was a fixture at San Francisco's KFOG. Stuart could not have been an inexpensive acquisition.

Closing the circle, Big Rick got his start in radio at KUSF -- the station squeezed off the FM airwaves as part of CPRN's deal with USF.

[UPDATE: corrected mangled writing in the first paragraph. Also, I revisited some of this post's thoughts not long afterwards.]

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