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Thread: Small Market Am Radio Gradually Going Away?

  1. #1

    Small Market Am Radio Gradually Going Away?

    I have always wanted to own a radio station. I seriously doubt that it will ever happen as I do not have the funds to buy even a small town, AM daytimer, which is what I would like to start off with. But I've been noticing something disturbing. I live in Missouri and in the past few years, about four small town Missouri AM radio stations have gone dark. They are:

    KUKU 1330, Willow Springs
    KELE 1360, Mountain Grove
    KDFN 1500, Doniphan

    I realize that stations shut down all the time, but to have this many in the same state in only the past five years or so is alarming (to me, anyway)! As previously stated, if I can ever rake up the money to buy a radio station, I would like to begin with a small town AM, but I also see no reason to pursue something that may not be around in several years.

  2. #2
    I'm sorry. I wrote "four small town Missouri AM radio stations." I meant "three."

  3. #3
    Running any business is a personal commitment. It doesn't matter if it's a restaurant or a radio station. If you have a commitment to something, you can get the money, you can find the property, and you can make it happen. But if you want someone to give you something for free, it probably won't happen. If you want to make small market radio work, you have to be willing to put the time in. If you can't afford staff, you will have to do all the work yourself. It would help to be active in the business community, and well known among the politicians.

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Edgewood, NM
    Posts
    1,154
    You are not alone. Per RBR, as of January 1st of this year "The number of AMs declined again, moving to 4,619 from 4,626 and from 4,633 at the end of the first half of 2018. This compares to 4,646 on June 30, 2017."

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    Location
    Houston, Texas
    Posts
    1,766
    Lots of AMs, especially daytimers and especially in small towns where regional, if not local FMs have established a foothold are having a tough time. AM still works if you put the effort. It seems local is a big factor in bringing in listeners and keeping them. Smart programming and top of mind awareness are equally critical. Obviously a sales department that will visit every business near and far is the way to pay the bills.

    I think you'll find many of the AMs going dark are associated with an FM and the buyer was stuck buying an AM to get the FM. Or the AM has been neglected so long that the capital to get the station back to where it should be technically is too steep for the station's current income. Some AMs are in such bad shape it's almost a rebuild from the ground system up. For a few, the land has more value than the station's revenue potential. And some just give up on AM, putting on anything and doing a cheap add-on rate for spots.One operator asks $8 for a spot on the FM and for 60 cents more he'll toss in the AM. You can buy the AM alone for $1 per 30 second spot. Then again the AM is the computer in the closet inserting spots in a satellite delivered format.

  6. #6
    KELE isn't officially gone yet. Today they were granted an extension to their STA to remain silent, which now expires on November 1st. Their application states "THE MAIN STUDIO AND STL TRANSMISSION EQUIPMENT WILL BE RELOCATED TO A NEW STUDIO. DUE TO RESOURCE ISSUES, THE TRANSITION HAS NOT YET BEEN ABLE TO BE COMPLETED AND ADDITIONAL TIME WILL BE REQUIRED TO COMPLETE THE RELOCATION."

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by TheBigA View Post
    Running any business is a personal commitment. It doesn't matter if it's a restaurant or a radio station.
    Just as many failed LPFM licensees have discovered, one still needs listeners. Your comment above is ironic, because owning a stand-alone restaurant is about the same level of risk in business as a stand-alone radio station.

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