SBD/October 9, 2012/Media

CBS Radio Purchases FM Station To Simulcast WFAN; Launch Date Yet To Be Determined

CBS Radio yesterday announced an agreement to purchase N.Y.-area station 101.9 FM from Merlin Media for $75M, and later this fall will begin operating the system as a simulcast of sports-talk station WFAN-AM under the call letters WFAN-FM (CBS Radio). CBS Senior VP Don Bouloukos said that the “exact date for the launch of the WFAN-FM simulcast depends on the speed of the regulatory process.” He said that he “expects it will happen by the end of the year, with some speculation CBS has a mid-November goal.” Bouloukos said WFAN would simulcast “for as long as we can.” In N.Y., David Hinckley notes ESPN Radio has “added listeners since it moved to FM in New York, but WFAN has remained comfortably ahead in the ratings -- including among the 25- to 54-year-old men who form the core of the sports-talk audience.” CBS holds the radio rights for the Mets on WFAN and the Yankees on sister station WCBS-AM, but there “has been speculation ESPN will make an aggressive play when their contracts expire.” Bouloukos: “We’ve had no coverage problems with either team. I don’t think a simulcast adds any value for the rights holder” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 10/9). Also in N.Y., Richard Sandomir noted the “possibility exists that after a period of simulcasting, WFAN’s voices could vanish from its AM digs.” CBS Radio President & CEO Dan Mason said that if the format at WFAN-AM changes, it "would not happen for a while.” Sandomir wrote sports “might never actually leave WFAN-AM, which has one of the strongest brands in news media and has advertising billings that place it among the top 10 of all radio stations nationally.” Mason said that unless WFAN “converts to something else,” CBS Radio’s primary reason for buying the FM station was to “complement the booming signal” of the AM station (NYTIMES.com, 10/8).
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