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USC to Purchase KCNL in San Jose for $7.5 million to Expand KDFC’s Classical Radio Coverage

Outside KCNL's studios in San Jose (Photo: J. Waits)

Outside KCNL's studios in San Jose (Photo: J. Waits)

It was announced today that Principle Broadcasting Network, the owner of San Jose-area commercial radio station KCNL 104.9 FM, has submitted paperwork to the FCC in order to sell the station to University of Southern California (USC) for $7.5 million for use in its network of classical radio stations. Currently KCNL airs a Spanish-language talk format comprised of paid programming.

This is big news for USC and its affiliated entity Classical Public Radio Network (CPRN, which is 90% owned by USC), which has been vocal about its desire to expand its programming into the South Bay area. After Entercom transferred its KDFC brand to CPRN last year, the classical music network has been working hard to reconstruct the listening range available over KDFC when it was a commercial station.

CPRN is currently leasing KUSF 90.3 FM while it awaits word from the FCC regarding its application to purchase the station. In the meantime, CPRN was able to purchase the formerly religious station KNDL (now with the call sign KDFC) in Angwin, as well the former KUSP  translator in Los Gatos. With the additional purchase of KCNL, CPRN should be able to satisfy disgruntled South Bay listeners who have been without a terrestrial FM signal for KDFC for the past year. According to paperwork filed with the FCC, USC hopes to “operate KCNL as a ‘satellite’ of commonly-owned noncommercial educational station KDFC(FM), Angwin, California.”

In a joint statement today, USC and Principle announced,

“The Principle Broadcasting Network LLC has signed an asset purchase agreement to sell KCNL-FM, licensed to Sunnyvale, CA, to the University of Southern California (USC).  USC operates classical stations in Southern California and is a majority partner of the Classical Public Radio Network which operates Classical KDFC-FM in the San Francisco Bay Area. Media Venture Partners represented Principle Broadcasting Network in this transaction.”

KCNL in its current form is a unique station in that it has been leasing out its entire broadcast schedule to a number of entities interested in reaching the Spanish language community in the San Jose area. When I visited the station back in February, I was told that the entire broadcast schedule was available for lease. For the most part, it’s community-based entities renting out the airtime for a range of different talk shows in Spanish, as well as a few music-based programs like “Bobby Gold’s Oldies.” The syndicated “Save Alternative” (aka S*ALT FM) programming also airs on KCNL 104.9 FM on Saturday and Sunday nights and is broadcast over KCNL’s HD2 channel 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

KCNL’s sister stations (also owned by Principle) KLOK and KSJO operate from the same studio location in San Jose and are also made up of brokered programming for different communities. KLOK airs a variety of programming for the Asian Indian community (after it launched by playing Bollywood music) and KSJO is 100% Chinese language programming (after a transition period in which it aired the Save Alternative format.)

USC plans to begin airing classical music programming over KCNL in advance of the transfer of control through a lease management agreement (LMA). Additionally, USC filed a request with the FCC to change the status of KCNL from commercial to non-commercial upon consummation of the license transfer. I’m still awaiting word from Principle and USC about further details of this sale and when programming from KDFC will begin airing over 104.9 FM.

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2 Responses to USC to Purchase KCNL in San Jose for $7.5 million to Expand KDFC’s Classical Radio Coverage

  1. Anthony Sacco March 31, 2012 at 10:06 am #

    Hopefully CPRN will now surrender the K2122A translator it purchased from Pataphysical Broadcasting KUSP, Santa Cruz.

    Is it too much to hope that KUSP will repurchase its translator and restore KUSP signal to the Santa Clara Valley and greater San Jose?

  2. Nick March 31, 2012 at 10:46 pm #

    Thank god. 104.9 FM was a brokered disgrace on air, with that awful automated ‘Save Alternative’ (from what? save me from the dreadful bores they sometimes had as on air hosts). Bay Area needed more classical and another non-profit on the air.

    Curious to think what will happen to 92.3 and 1170. Is this a sign of the future for those stations?

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