Erika Engle

Thursday, July 7, 2005

Hawaiian music
AM radio station sold
to Utah company

Oahu's KUPA-AM 1370, which simulcasts Hawaiian music from KHUI-FM 99.5, has been sold to the Broadcasting Corporation of America, headed by Utah-based attorney Nathan W. Drage, for $650,000. The deal is pending regulatory approval by the Federal Communications Commission.

"I'm currently seriously looking at some Hispanic programming," Drage said. "I'm very interested in providing that service to the Hispanic community there in Honolulu ... which currently appears to be underserved."

He is reviewing programming offered by several national providers, but Drage also wants to discuss local involvement with Hawaii's Hispanic community leaders.

Drage does mergers, acquisitions and securities in his law practice, but he became interested in broadcasting while representing a client in a dispute over a radio station, he said.

KUPA's new parent company, the Broadcasting Corporation of America, is historic in the industry. The circa-1920s incarnation was a subsidiary of AT&T that broadcast the signals of AT&T's first radio stations, WEAF-AM and WCAP-AM, both in New York. In 1926, the company was sold to the Radio Corporation of America, now known as RCA, ending years of patent disputes over radio technology. RCA and partners General Electric and Westinghouse then established the National Broadcasting Co., now known as NBC.

Drage's new station has had six other sets of call letters and two owners since it was purchased from Hawaii Public Radio in 2002.

The company that bought the station from HPR was Utah-based Diamond Broadcasting Corp., headed by Jeffrey Bate. However, HPR negotiated the deal with E. Morgan Skinner, Bate's father-in-law and head of Legacy Communications Corp., which later assumed the license and sold KUPA to Drage.

Last month, Legacy Communications registered to sell shares of stock to the public, hoping to raise $500,000 for radio station acquisitions, construction and upgrades.

See the Columnists section for some past articles.

Erika Engle is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Call 529-4302, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached at: eengle@starbulletin.com

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