Wednesday, October 31, 2001

KRTR AM sells,
switches programming

New owners offer a
Korean-language radio station

By Erika Engle

KRTR AM 1460 has been sold by Cox Radio Hawaii to California-based Trade Center Management Inc., a brokerage firm that registered to do business in Hawaii one week ago.

The station, which had been simulcasting the programming of KRTR 96 FM, is now carrying Korean language programming. "Right now we're operating the station under an LMA (local marketing agreement) pending FCC approval for an asset sale," said Cox Radio Hawaii Vice President and General Manager Austin Vali. Simulcasting the KRTR FM signal, Vali said, "did not show the return on investment that we normally look for in a station."

The new programming will be from three different sources, according to Trade Center Management Chairman and CEO Joe Tapias, including Radio Korea from South Korea and Radio Korea in Los Angeles. The majority of the station's programming will originate from Honolulu, pending completion of studio construction downtown he said. Contacted at home, he did not have access to the studio address, but said the "soft-opening" of the station would be around the first of November.

The station will be operated by KOAM Broadcasting Inc., and is expected to apply for a call-sign change to KOAM. Online state business registration records list 12th floor space at 1585 Kapiolani Blvd. The operators are "not U.S. citizens," Tapias said, but are legal residents. U.S. law prohibits foreign ownership of broadcast properties.

"This venture is being established primarily to really develop credibility in the community," Tapias said, "we want to invest in them in exchange for consideration."

It will not be the company's only foray into Hawaii business. "We will be opening up a brokerage firm in Honolulu, hopefully by the end of the year," said Trade Center Management's Tapias, with its grand opening by the first of the year.

"What we are trying to do is educate the community," he said, not just via the radio, but "local seminars and educational types of formats to relay the things we've learned in 20 years of business." The company specializes in what Tapias called "alternative investments," found "outside the traditional stock market."

The radio transaction is expected to close within 60 days; the purchase price was undisclosed. It is the second Korean-language station in Honolulu. KREA AM 1540, is owned by Santa Monica-based JMK Communications Inc. KNDI AM 1270, one of Honolulu's last locally-owned radio stations, also broadcasts multiethnic programming.

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