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Emily Welker, Published April 30 2013

Sales finalized for both major F-M radio station clusters

FARGO – In a 24-hour time span, most commercial radio stations in Fargo-Moorhead are changing hands as both major radio clusters are sold to two separate buyers.

The sales, both of which were announced last year, were expected to become final late Tuesday and today and involve 12 radio stations – roughly three-quarters of the metro area’s commercial stations.

“It’s just a coincidence – just kind of how it worked out,” said Michael Brooks, vice president and market manager of Triad Broadcasting in Fargo, a cluster of six stations being sold as part of a larger $21 million deal including 26 stations in four other markets.

The sale of Radio Fargo-Moorhead, a station group including KFGO 790 AM and five other local stations, to Midwest Communications, a Wausau, Wis.-based company, was set to close at 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, Nancy Odney, chief operating officer at Radio Fargo-Moorhead, said on Tuesday.

The $25 million sale of the stations RFM owner James Ingstad bought in 2006 was announced in September.

Jeff McCarthy, Midwest Communications vice president of programming, said the focus for the Fargo stations would be “local, local, local.”

McCarthy said Midwest officials plan to visit Fargo to “learn and understand how everything works.” He said he anticipated no immediate changes to programming, and described news-talk station KFGO as “a very unique station – it’s one of those things, just get out of their way.”

Brooks also said he does not expect any immediate changes to the Triad stations, which are being sold to L&L Broadcasting. He said L&L had agreed to hire their entire staff.

Larry Wilson, the CEO of L&L Broadcasting, is also the head of a separate radio ownership group called Alpha Broadcasting, based in Portland, Ore. L&L Broadcasting officials did not respond to an interview request on Tuesday.

Brooks said the sales might have been finalized earlier, but federal license renewals came up while the deals were awaiting Federal Communications Commission approval. He said Triad officials first met with L&L officials last summer.

The local Triad stations are KQWB 1660 AM (True Oldies); KPFK 107.9 FM (The Fox); KLTA 105.1 FM; KVOX 99.9 FM (Froggy); KBMW 1450 AM; and KQWB 98.7 FM (Q98).

In addition to KFGO, the Radio Fargo-Moorhead stations are KVOX 740 AM (The Fan); WDAY 93.7 FM (Y94); KBVB 95.1 FM (Bob 95); KRWK 101.9 FM (Talk FM); and KMJO 104.7 FM (Popster FM).

WDAY 970 AM, which like The Forum is owned by Forum Communications Co., is not part of the two sales.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Emily Welker at (701) 241-5541