Wednesday, January 10, 2007

KIST/Santa Barbara sold to local broadcasters

Radio and Records reports that progressive talk station KIST in Santa Barbara, CA has been sold by Clear Channel Communications, along with six other local stations, to a Ventura-based broadcasting group. The new owner will likely spin the progressive talk station off to another owner.

Rincon Broadcasting announced Wednesday that it is buying the seven Santa Barbara stations from Clear Channel for $17.3 million. This is part of Clear Channel's planned divestiture of its stations in markets outside of the Arbitron-rated top 100. Santa Barbara is Market #207.

Rincon is owned by Point Broadcasting Co., owned and operated by John Hearne of Malibu, Calif., and his family and by Roy Laughlin. Both Hearne and Laughlin are veteran California broadcasters. Laughlin is a former Clear Channel/Los Angeles executive. Point is the principal owner of Gold Coast Broadcasting, which operates six radio stations in Ventura County, and has additional radio-station interests in California's Fresno (where they currently operate progressive talker KFPT) and Kern Counties and in the Mojave Desert.

Rincon expects to take control of all the stations but KIST-AM on Jan. 16 under a local management agreement. KIST is expected to be transferred to Santa Barbara Community Broadcasting Co., which will operate the station, according to what appears to be a press release. Very little is known about KIST's new owner.

KIST has been a ratings success since it flipped from sports to liberal talk in 2004. In the most recent ratings book released yesterday, it ranked #7 overall in the market with a 3.4 overall share. The station runs an almost entirely syndicated lineup consisting of Stephanie Miller, Ed Schultz and various Air America Radio shows. On weekends, KIST features a few locally-oriented shows. All in all, a pretty solid station in the ratings books.

If there were to be a format flip, it would be due to the new owner's own preferences, but as of yet, nobody knows what SBCBC is all about, though we should have some idea by next week. Either way, a call letter change for either KIST-AM or FM will be likely, as they will now be split apart from each other. The AM station carried the KIST call sign for many years until their flip to progressive talk, when they picked up the KTLK moniker. When CC flipped an L.A. station to the format in January 2005, they moved the call sign there and reverted the Santa Barbara station back to KIST.

Keep checking back here at LTR for updates.


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