Broadcasters initiate 2-island radio station swap
BROADCASTERS based on Maui and Kauai have initiated a two-island radio station swap -- though one of them is not yet built.
Pacific Radio Group Inc., based on Maui, gets the new station at 92.5 FM in Kahului and $520,000, in exchange for KLHI-FM 101.1, which has been on the air since 1984.
KLHI is one of Pacific Radio Group's 14 Hawaii stations.
Hochman Hawaii-Three Inc. will get KLHI-FM, which is licensed for Lahaina, Maui, but has federal authorization to change its community of license to Waianae.
Oahu is where George Hochman and his mainland partners, Bill Poorman and Bill Mays, based in Indiana, would rather have the FM station.
The parties will keep their own call letters in the deal, which Pacific Radio Group President Chuck Bergson believes will take six months to close.
The alternative rock programming on KLHI will remain the same when it moves to 92.5.
"Basically the idea was for us to enhance an asset and in this particular situation and deal, it allows us to eliminate a new (competing) frequency that would have been coming into the market," Bergson said.
The Hochman group will house its new FM station with KORL-AM 1180 on Fort Street Mall.
"For him it's just a frequency change. For me, it's creating an Oahu radio station," Hochman said. "I mean, you don't get too many opportunities to do that."
The two Bills of Indiana won the Kahului construction permit as Shirk-Mays LLC, with a $518,000 bid during the Federal Communications Commission's FM Auction No. 62 last January.
Visionary envisions more
MAUI-based Visionary Related Entertainment LLC
has increased its standing as having more radio stations than any other company broadcasting in Hawaii.
After winning a construction permit for the last available commercial FM frequency on Maui, 107.5 FM in Kihei, yesterday morning, the company will have 17 stations statewide, on Oahu, Maui, Molokai, the Big Island and Kauai.
FCC Auction No. 68 ended "at 6:31 a.m. Hawaii time," yesterday, according to an e-mail by John Detz, Visionary president and the only local broadcaster to participate in the auction.
Visionary's $1,109,000 bid held through the last nine rounds, despite previously spirited bidding.
Auction spending is just the tip of the monetary iceberg, as transmitters and studio equipment have to be purchased and studios built, which could add up to millions more dollars for a newbie.
For established broadcasters, economies of scale factor in so costs can be as low as "the low six figures," Detz said.
Still, all that money's got to come from somewhere.
"We had put together an investment package years ago that I can draw upon, knowing that all these auctions were coming up, so we could participate without taxing the stations' viability."
Or saying no to pay raises. "Or having pay decreases," Detz chuckled.
In 2004, Visionary bid nearly $1.4 million for a construction permit in Kaunakakai, Molokai and $428,000 for another, in Kurtistown on the Big Island.
Detz predicted in August that the stations would be on the air "before the end of the year," but they have been delayed.
The studio for KMKK-FM 102.3 is under construction, "right downtown near the major intersection where the big stop sign is," and hiring will begin next week, Detz said. KTBH-FM 102.1 in Kurtistown, "has not been built yet."
Winning bidders have three years to get a station on the air, but Detz believes the Kihei station will be up sooner.
is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Call 529-4747, 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