KELO Radio bought out

Alicia Brown

Alicia Brown

Five KELO radio stations in Sioux Falls, originally owned by Midcontinent Media, were sold Sept. 22 to Backyard Broadcasting, a company based in Baltimore, Md.

Midcontinent, which provides cable and high-speed Internet, sold KELO-AM 1320, KELO-FM 92.5, KRRO-FM 103.7, KTWB-FM 101.9 and KWSN-AM 1230. The purchase price was not disclosed, and the deal is subject to a review by the Federal Communications Commission.

“This sale to Backyard Broadcasting will encourage the continued growth of our stations and staff as part of an exciting national organization dedicated to radio broadcasting,” said Larry Bentson, chairman of Midcontinent in a press release.

KELO radio has been part of Midcontinent since 1952. Midcontinent owned KELO-TV until 1996 when Young Broadcasting purchased the station. The company sold its movie theaters to Carmike Cinemas in 1995.

Midcontinent wants to focus on providing cable, telephone and high-speed Internet services in South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota, and Nebraska, according to a Midcontinent press release.

“There is a great deal of sentimentality that goes with this sale,” said Tom Simmons, a Midcontinent executive. “The radio stations were the first major acquisition, 52 years ago, beyond our origins of the movie theaters. They came along with the construction permit for the start of the TV side: KELO-TV,” he said.

Backyard Broadcasting purchased 20 radio stations in Pennsylvania, New York, and Indiana from Sabre Communications Inc. in August 2002. The company now owns 27 radio stations.

The president of Backyard Broadcasting, Barry Drake, has not announced any plans to change the Sioux Falls radio stations. Employees at the Sioux Falls stations will be able to continue their careers here or have the opportunity to work in other markets that are part of Backyard Broadcasting, Drake said in a press release.

“We are careful to grow in selected markets, we look very closely at the technical side, only buying top-notch facilities. And finally, we look for heritage call letters like ‘KELO,’ with a strong community recognition.” Drake said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.