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June 17, 2020 2:49 pm  #1


Would You Give To A GoFundMe Page To Save A Commercial Radio Station?

Would you give money to a GoFundMe page to save a local commercial AM-FM radio combo? That’s what’s happening in the small town of Lake Tahoe, Nevada. A station there, which describes itself as a small “mom & pop” type operation, needs to come up with $100,000 by July 1st or be unable to repay the loan that’s keeping the place afloat..
 
So it started a GoFundMe page, asking listeners to contribute to keep it alive, with the clock ticking. Otherwise, it threatens that one of those big bad national companies will swoop in and take it over. They blame it on the Coronavirus.
 
 “On June 30th 2020 we owe a balloon payment to the note holder of the loan we took out to purchase these stations 5 years ago,” its campaign reads. “We need to raise at least $100,000 in order to have a viable chance of extending the loan terms. If we do not, it is extremely likely that the stations will be foreclosed on and sold off to a national radio company that would simply use our frequency to relay one of their stations from outside the market. The odds are slim that any entity would want to buy standalone radio stations in a tourist market and operate them locally in this economy. It would mean the end of local radio in South Lake Tahoe.”
 

We’re used to hearing this kind of plea from non-commercial outlets like Jazz-FM. But a fully commercial radio station launching a GoFundMe page that’s not for charity? That’s a first for me.
 
The question: would you give them any money to save them from a swift silent sign-off if you lived there?
 
I have to say, while I’m sorry for the “little guy,” I don’t think I would donate a dime. But obviously some would. As of this post, they’ve managed to get 44 donors to give them the less than princely sum of $3,395.  
 
GoFundMe Page  
 
GoFundMe account created to help owner keep radio stations KRLT-FM and KOWL-AM

 

June 17, 2020 3:49 pm  #2


Re: Would You Give To A GoFundMe Page To Save A Commercial Radio Station?

I wonder what they value the stations at, what their total debt is, what their annual income is versus expenses - obvious questions of this sort. Then I'd maybe consider purchasing a share worth $100,000. But I'd want to treat it like an investment. I might even work for free if the majority owners are doing the same.

 

June 17, 2020 5:21 pm  #3


Re: Would You Give To A GoFundMe Page To Save A Commercial Radio Station?

If advertisers aren't supporting the station, likely means that they are struggling for listeners as well.  Like Saul said I would want to see more about the finances of the company.  How long have they been financially stressed, have they ever made money etc. What is their competition and how have they been performing? Are both stations losing money, and which of the two financially and from an operation standpoint is stronger?

All local mom and pop stations are not necessarily worth saving, but if the residence of South Lake Tahoe want to help out with cash, why not?

Maybe a good option would be convert the two stations to community based operations, or possibly dump or sell one.   KOWL AM is likely the more expensive of the two to run.
 
Corporate radio chains in the US and Canada are two different animals and not that comparable.

 

June 17, 2020 5:45 pm  #4


Re: Would You Give To A GoFundMe Page To Save A Commercial Radio Station?

I'd donate, but I agree that the AM is likely more expensive and an option is to sell to save the other. (To be honest, I broadcast on a campus/community FM, still struggling from the Ford cuts to campus service fees and am thankful for everyday we're on the air (CFMU FM Hamilton))

Last edited by DOPEfm (June 17, 2020 5:46 pm)

 

June 17, 2020 7:12 pm  #5


Re: Would You Give To A GoFundMe Page To Save A Commercial Radio Station?

paterson1 wrote:

If advertisers aren't supporting the station, likely means that they are struggling for listeners as well.

Under normal circumstances, that makes total sense, but these are far from local circumstances. A station like that most likely survives on a handful of loyal smaller businesses that, like themselves, are seeing massive revenue drops. So appealing to listeners to get them through this time is logical without having to question their core business model.
 


 
 

June 17, 2020 7:19 pm  #6


Re: Would You Give To A GoFundMe Page To Save A Commercial Radio Station?

No. My money goes to non-profit campus/community stations trying to stay afloat. The medium wasn't invented for people to get rich, as most commercial radio employees quickly discover.

Those of the investor class who freely and advisedly chose to speculate in radio for profit will reap the successes or deep throat the failures.

 

June 17, 2020 7:45 pm  #7


Re: Would You Give To A GoFundMe Page To Save A Commercial Radio Station?

If the station provided content to my liking and I listened to it regularly, yes I would donate.

My concern is if they don't achieve their 100K goal and the station goes silent, your donation would not have made any difference.

 

June 19, 2020 12:34 am  #8


Re: Would You Give To A GoFundMe Page To Save A Commercial Radio Station?

Lake Tahoe is a very touristy area. I would assume many advertisers are geared towards them, or lately lack of them. Radio-Locator has the FM signal giving fringe coverage to Carson City, Nevada’s Capital, and zilch to Reno, the largest city in the area. The AM is a graveyard frequency in the US, and I would bet is syndicated talk (their website seems to ignore them). Oddly, the FM page has no mention of the GoFundMe.

 

June 19, 2020 2:14 am  #9


Re: Would You Give To A GoFundMe Page To Save A Commercial Radio Station?

Did the problems start 5 years ago? Or was the cancellation of Rush a good call?
South Lake Tahoe radio station cancels Rush Limbaugh
"New station owner and GM, Steve Harness, made the decision but stressed it was done for economic reasons and not for political reasons." 

Source: http://southtahoenow.com/story/08/11/2015/south-lake-tahoe-radio-station-cancels-rush-limbaugh-show
 

 

June 19, 2020 12:21 pm  #10


Re: Would You Give To A GoFundMe Page To Save A Commercial Radio Station?

The article mentions also that Rush Limbaugh was losing advertisers for the station, so it wasn't like he was making them much money anyway. Plus they wouldn't waive the syndication fee for the show.   

Just went to the Go Fund Me page and so far they have raised $4,925 with 62 donors taking part, so quite a long way to go to reach $100,000.  They have received a fair bit of publicity over the last few days, but I am sure like everywhere else, money is tight in Lake Tahoe.

I get the feeling that KRLT and KOWL have been financially troubled for a while and the health crisis and lack of advertisers over the past 3-4 months has made things a lot worse for them. Still say they should try and convert the operation to community broadcasting and possibly drop the AM if it has been the main source of losses.

Last edited by paterson1 (June 19, 2020 12:51 pm)

 

June 19, 2020 5:16 pm  #11


Re: Would You Give To A GoFundMe Page To Save A Commercial Radio Station?

Limbaugh is aired on KKOH Reno, which according to the map covers Lake Tahoe very well.
Without seeing a schedule, unless the AM has some brokered programming on weekends, I can’t see it making any money. Any advertiser is probably contracted with the FM, and receives a “bonus” spot(s) on the AM. There’s no FM translator to help the signal. The question is, would there actually be a buyer for the AM? Even religious broadcasters are migrating to FM, or at least large AM signals, not graveyards. Sadly, it may be best to turn in the license, because even if the station is 100% automated, there’s still the power bill and (possibly) tower rent.

The FM may have a shot as a stand-alone. A power boost would help to perhaps grab some Reno advertisers, but I’m not sure how doable that is. Certainly, they don’t have the money right now for that.

 

June 30, 2020 8:17 am  #12


Re: Would You Give To A GoFundMe Page To Save A Commercial Radio Station?

It’s one day before deadline and it now appears that if KRLT hopes to be saved from creditors by listeners, they have too many of the former and not enough of the latter. As of this posting, they only have $7,220 raised on their GoFund Me Page, far short of the $100,000 they say they needed to keep the place afloat. Not sure if there simply isn’t the listenership, most don’t care or people simply don’t have any extra money to contribute in the age of COVID-19 layoffs.
 
It will be interesting to keep an eye on what happens next, but if they can’t pay their bills, there are few options – a bank loan, an outright sale or bankruptcy. Either way, I guess I have my answer to my initial question about whether anyone would pay to keep a commercial radio station in business.

     Thread Starter
 

June 30, 2020 8:36 am  #13


Re: Would You Give To A GoFundMe Page To Save A Commercial Radio Station?

RadioActive wrote:

It’s one day before deadline and it now appears that if KRLT hopes to be saved from creditors by listeners, they have too many of the former and not enough of the latter. As of this posting, they only have $7,220 raised on their GoFund Me Page, far short of the $100,000 they say they needed to keep the place afloat. 

How many of those people donating the $7,220 would mind if the AM side closed? 
In doing so, can they sell off ANYTHING AM radio related to generate the remaining money needed to survive?

 

June 30, 2020 8:47 am  #14


Re: Would You Give To A GoFundMe Page To Save A Commercial Radio Station?

You're assuming there's anyone who wants to buy a one-lung AM station in a small place like Lake Tahoe. I'm not sure there'd be a line-up out the door waiting to make that deal. Would you do it if you had the money?

My point being that may not be enough in any case to save the FM, which is the real valuable property here and I suspect is going to keep running into money problems in the long run.

Normally, a Lake Tahoe station wouldn't even be noted here. But what an interesting and unusual story this has become. 

     Thread Starter
 

June 30, 2020 9:22 am  #15


Re: Would You Give To A GoFundMe Page To Save A Commercial Radio Station?

RadioActive wrote:

You're assuming there's anyone who wants to buy a one-lung AM station in a small place like Lake Tahoe. I'm not sure there'd be a line-up out the door waiting to make that deal. Would you do it if you had the money?
 

YOU are assuming that I am assuming. I never said that.
Maybe someone out there has older AM equipment and wouldn't mind buying theirs if the AM side is shutting down.
OR (to raise more money) maybe someone wants to move the whole AM station to another town. 
Don't restrict the thinking...

 

July 2, 2020 7:04 pm  #16


Re: Would You Give To A GoFundMe Page To Save A Commercial Radio Station?

The AM is a graveyard frequency. Northern Nevada save Reno and Carson City and that portion of California is very rural until you get to Sacramento. I’m not sure if moving it closer to Reno is even an option, yet alone economically feasible.

The equipment could be sold piecemeal.