Gateway, which currently operates two FM stations on the outskirts of St. Louis that play Christian contemporary music, will pay $18 million for KFUO and according to the story was the only prospective buyer allowed to submit a bid. The transaction still must be approved by the Federal Communication Commission, which would seem to be a mere formality at this point.
The deal is of interest to local jazz fans because in addition to being the St. Louis area's only classical music radio station, KFUO for the last 18 months has been the home of Don Wolff's long-running program I Love Jazz, which airs Fridays from 8:00 p.m. to midnight. You can read Miller's story in its entirety here.
UPDATE - 5:30 p.m., 10/7/09: Miller has filed an updated version of her original story, and added a series of related blog posts, including a reader poll, reaction from the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, a look at the communication (or lack of same) between the LCMS board and the lawyer who oversaw the sale, and some reader comments.
Over at STLMedia.net, proprietor Mike Anderson, who worked in St. Louis radio for many years, had a strong negative reaction to news of the sale, urging readers to file protests with the FCC. The site's message board, which is members-only, also has a thread going on the sale, with some interesting analysis by poster "dez" based on the financial statements of prospective KFUO buyers Gateway Creative Broadcasting:
"Bottom line: For this transaction to work for LCMS, the organization to which they are selling has to quadruple the amount of money it takes in each year. Not maintain, not double, but quadruple. And, according to their current stated intentions, do that without commercial revenue.Supported of the classical music format on KFUO also have formed a Facebook group called "Stop the Sale of KFUO Classic 99 in St. Louis!" which can be found here.
Was the LCMS pulling in anywhere near $4m/yr from their commercial operation of KFUO? If not, what makes them believe Joy-FM has any chance of doing that without commercials?
When the numbers don't add up, and here they certainly do not, one has to wonder what the deal really is. It appears to do little if anything to meet the LCMS's stated intention of shoring up its financial condition."
(Edited after posting to add a tag. Edited again 10/8/09 to fix a broken link.)