Rights to build more FM radio stations will hit the auction block
TRYING to replace the departing morning-radio team for KDDB-FM 102.7 during the already-busy holidays should bring a promise of rest with the advent of the new year -- but not for John Detz, president of Maui-based Visionary Related Entertainment LLC
Come Jan. 12, he will again endure the sleep deprivation that comes with an East Coast auction for the rights to build new FM radio stations while already running a 14-station radio group spanning three islands.
The Federal Communications Commission will auction 171 construction permits for new FM stations to 214 bidders starting at 5 a.m. Hawaii time on Jan. 12. Still, it was worse during last year's Auction 37, when bidding began at 3 a.m. Last year's auction lasted 14 days.
Winning a construction permit at auction gives the winner the right to spend millions more dollars to build a radio station. It is a complex undertaking involving federal, state and local regulations, land-use issues, environmental-impact studies and, in some cases, starting over from scratch when a not-in-my-backyard mindset keeps one from building a massively tall radio tower in, well, somebody's backyard.
Three of the construction permits up for grabs are in Hawaii -- specifically, 106.9 in Nanakuli and two on Maui: 92.5 in Kahului and 107.5 in Kihei. Detz was between meetings and islands yesterday and unavailable for comment, but he leads the only Hawaii-based radio company registered to bid in the upcoming auction.
Oh, wait, there's also Kona Coast Radio LLC, but it is based in Cheyenne, Wyo. Kona Coast spent $2.2 million on two permits a year ago, one in Wahiawa and one in Rock River, Wyo.
Visionary previously emerged with permits for stations in Kaunakakai, Molokai, and Kurtistown on the Big Island with bids totaling $1.8 million. The Kaunakakai permit cost Visionary the most, at just under $1.4 million. The Kurtistown permit was practically a steal at $428,000.
There are as yet no radio stations up and running from the eight construction permits sold last year, though three of them have been granted call letters.
A station in Hanapepe, Kauai, owned by Jackson, Wyo.-based Christina Bourdeaux, will be KEEI-FM 94.3; the Kurtistown station will be KTBH-FM at 102.1; and the Wahiawa station will be KHAI-FM 103.5, call letters reminiscent of a once-popular AM radio station in Honolulu.
Broadcast licensees traditionally have three years to get a station on the air from the date a construction permit is issued.
Most of the Auction 62 bidders have selected specific construction permits on which they'll be bidding, but 34 including Visionary have dibs on all 171 permits.
Other bidders that already possess Hawaii broadcast licenses are Calif.-based Educational Media Foundation, Tennessee-based George S. Flinn III and Illinois-based KM Communications Inc.
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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: firstname.lastname@example.org