Buyout puts most local radio stations under one owner

Michelle Herrick

Michelle Herrick

SDSU’s campus radio station is the only independent station remaining in Brookings after a buyout of all the commercial stations in Brookings April 15.

Three Eagles Communications, based in Lincoln, Neb., bought Depot Radio, which included talk station 910 AM, KCountry 102.3 and top 40 music station X107.1.

“It will affect the radio landscape here in Brookings,” said Ashley Allen, KSDJ station manager. “I think that there won’t be as much competition between all the stations. The stations will probably try to find their own niche rather than competing for the same listeners.”

Included in the $9.4 million deal with Omaha-based Waitt Radio were four stations in Watertown and two in Fort Doge, Iowa.

The FCC still has to approve the deal, which generally takes three to six months.

Three Eagles owned two existing stations in Brookings: music and information station KBRK 1430, and adult contemporary music station B93.7.

Three Eagles CEO Rolland Johnson said he doesn’t foresee any major formatting or staffing changes.

“We usually end up adding employees,” Johnson said. “We usually have more sports, more news and more public affairs.”

Johnson was a professor at SDSU from 1967 to 1969. He was one of the first professors in the Radio, Television and Film department. As a student, he helped launch KSDJ.

KBRK Operations Manager Tim Webster, known as Michael Quinn on the air, said the merger improves radio in Brookings, because the stations will be sharing resources.

“Now we don’t have to be competitive against each other,” Webster said. “Instead of splitting the pie, we can program to five specific audiences.”

In Brookings, the building that currently houses KBRK will be expanded and all the stations will be under one roof.

Allen said buyouts are common in the radio industry, because it makes it easier for stations to sell advertising.

“It’s all about profit,” Allen said. “They can go their advertisers and say, ‘Not only are we going to put your advertisement on the rock station, but we’re also going to put it on the oldies station and the country station.’ “

Three Eagles owns 50 stations in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and South Dakota. The company started in 1996 with the purchase of 10 stations.

Johnson said his company tends to purchase mom and pop stations or stations that don’t rely on programming that comes in from a satellite.

“We have very little satellite and we do very little syndicated programming,” he said. “We tend to focus on local people providing information for their markets.”