Wednesday, December 18, 2002

Oahu radio
stations sold

Georgia-based Real Radio
buys KUMU stations and
KAHA-FM for $5.2 million
from Maverick Media

By Erika Engle

Honolulu's venerable KUMU radio stations and fledgling KAHA "The Big Kahuna" are being sold to a small Georgia-based company formed for the transaction.

Real Radio of America LLC has agreed to purchase KUMU-AM 1500, KUMU-FM 94.7 and KAHA-FM 105.9 for $5.2 million from Connecticut-based Maverick Media Inc. The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2003, pending Federal Communications Commission approvals.

Maverick President Gary Rozynek told the Star-Bulletin Nov. 12 that several company filings with the FCC that day were not in advance of a sale. Rozynek was traveling and not available for comment yesterday.

Real Radio has three managing partners, Gary Dodd, Tim Rose and Dan Bradley.

All three also are officers in Georgia-based Bullie Broadcasting Corp., which owns and operates three radio stations in Georgia and South Carolina.

WCGN-FM 106.3 in Glennville, Ga. airs Radio America's talk and news format; WSGA-FM 104.7 in Hinesville, Ga. is a Fox Sports talk station, and WBAW-FM 99.1 in Barnwell, S.C., carries gospel music and talk shows.

The latter two stations are under contract to be sold to an undisclosed buyer, according to Bradley.

Real Radio plans no format changes for KUMU-FM or KAHA-FM.

"I would be an incompetent to change (KUMU's light rock) format," he said, "That is one of the strongest radio stations on the island. It has tremendous heritage. It's one of the reasons we were very interested," he said.

Of KAHA-FM, Bradley said "Since the previous owners made the change to classic rock and remonikered it as 'The Big Kahuna,' we see nothing but tremendous growth in that one."

In the summer Arbitron ratings period, KUMU-FM was ranked No. 4 overall while KAHA jumped six spots to No. 11 among adults, its target audience.

KUMU-AM needs a new transmitter to combat what Bradley called a deficiency in its signal. At 10,000 watts, "It's one of the largest in the area and has a wonderful heritage dating back to the '50s. We'll have to go and see what needs to be done," he said.

The market

Real Radio principals considered stations in other resort markets before deciding to purchase Maverick's Honolulu cluster.

The company believes Hawaii provides more stability than other resort areas such as Las Vegas or Atlantic City.

"It is a world resort, not an American resort," Bradley said. "It is what I consider a handleable market at a million people. Much bigger than that and you can't get your arms around it. It has a certain sophistication and cosmopolitan feel to it that is more attractive than, let's say, Orlando.

"Plus it's Hawaii, for God's sake. Have you ever been in Hinesville, Georgia?" he said.

Bradley and fellow managing partner Tim Rose have broadcast backgrounds, while Gary Dodd's fortunes were realized in fast-food franchises, real estate investment and other ventures.

Bradley purchased his first radio station in 1976 in Randolph, Vt., where the population was 4,500 people and 50,000 cows, he said.

For this audience he did the morning show, sold commercials, prepared the commercial logs and took out the garbage. Rose was a disc jockey in England, lured to a career in the United States after seeing the movie, "American Graffiti."

The careers of both men have taken them through the gamut of small and large markets.

The Honolulu deal was announced to the local radio stations' staff Monday afternoon.

"I'm excited about the change. I think these guys recognize they're buying a winner," said Jeff Coelho, general manager of all three stations.


Bradley is sensitive to the pins and needles on which staff of about 30 likely finds itself. "We're respectful of that, it's happened to us."

He and Rose plan to come to Honolulu Jan. 3.

"We all want to do the right thing," Bradley said. "We're not corporate guys with a headquarters somewhere, we come hands-on as owners and operators. We expect to be as deeply involved in the community and its ebb and flow as Jeff (Coelho) and George (Rudolph, KUMU morning man) have been.

"Jeff Coelho, who's the manager, has been there for a long time. Some other folks have been there forever. I think they probably have a constituency that has been earned through their relationships with that many hundreds of thousands of people. I don't see any reason to do anything weird," Bradley said.

Dodd will stay in Georgia to oversee his other enterprises, Bradley said. "Tim and I are primarily radio guys and that's what we do and (Dodd) is not, but is a tremendous business man and keeps us from doing crazy things."

Chuck Cotton, general manager of seven Hawaii stations owned by broadcast behemoth Clear Channel Communications Inc., welcomes the new owners.

"We'll welcome them with the typical Hawaii spirit of aloha," Cotton said.

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