A lengthy article on The Deal Pipeline outlines some of the recent public radio transactions involving classical music radio stations in particular. For those of us who have monitored the deals mentioned in the piece, it’s a fascinating overview of what seems like increasing consolidation in public radio.
Of interest to me, since I have written extensively about the sale of University of San Francisco’s student radio station KUSF 90.3 FM to Classical Public Radio Network (affiliated with University of Southern California), was the article’s recounting of that deal. It points out that classical KUSC has “drawn loans from the University of Southern California to make acquisitions” and states that in 2011 it was able to buy commercial radio station KDFC‘s brand from Entercom, as well as the licenses for KUSF 90.3 FM and KNDL in that way. The article states,
“USC advanced the group $10.5 million to buy the station’s intellectual property and to purchase two stations from the University of San Francisco and Howell Mountain Broadcasting Co. to carry the signal. KUSC is raising capital to repay the loan. Entercom kept KDFC’s stronger signal, which it uses to simulcast a classic rock station from San Jose.”
The article doesn’t delve into the impact that some of these deals have had on student radio stations that have been sold off by universities (namely KUSF), but it alludes to the benefits seen by the sellers. According to the piece,
“Public broadcasters may not have the same appetite for consolidation as a large commercial group. The number of stations held by universities provides fodder for more transactions. A school’s board may decide that it does not want to be in the radio business and could otherwise deploy capital. ‘They can take that money and put it into building dorms,’ Public Radio Capital’s [Marc] Hand said.”
Certainly at USF, where dorm space was desperately needed, the re-purposing of KUSF’s old home for dorm space probably carried wide appeal among administrators. Another similar deal (the purchase of Rice University’s KTRU FM by University of Houston) wasn’t mentioned in this story, but when the plan to sell the license was announced, there was chatter about proceeds from the sale helping to fund the construction a new cafeteria.