Entrance to KFMB stations
Entrance to KFMB stations in Kearny Mesa. Image form Facebook page

San Diego radio station operator Local Media San Diego has completed its acquisition of news talk station KFMB 760-AM and adult rock station KFMB 100.7-FM from Tegna, LMSD announced. The sale price for the two stations was reported to be $5 million.

After completing the deal, as expected, LMSD added the FM station to its existing cluster of FM stations but then sold the AM station. iHeart Media purchased the station for an undisclosed amount.

Melissa Forrest, iHeart Media San Diego market manger, told the Times of San Diego the sales agreement, signed last week, is expected to close within 60 days. “Everything is going along pretty smoothly so far,” Forrest said. “The handoff is going well with both the Tegna team and Local Media team.”

As of last week, LMSD and iHeart were retaining the two KFMB stations’ previous programming formats and talent.

Longtime 760-AM talk-show hosts Mark Larson and Mike Slater were heard last week in their same morning and afternoon time slots, respectively, broadcasting from iHeart studios.

Meanwhile, Miles Himmel, who filled-in for departed afternoon host Brett Winterble for about two weeks, resumed his full-time role as communications director for San Diego County Supervisor Jim Desmond. Himmel worked at the station for the past five years, mostly in producer roles. Winterble left San Diego in February to become afternoon drive-time host on WBT 1100-AM and 99.3-FM in Charlotte, North Carolina.

A two-sentence press release, dated March 17 from Gregg Wolfson, LMSD managing partner, president and GM, said the former KFMB stations would join LMSD’s three Mexican-licensed FM stations — XHRM-FM Magic 92.5, XHTZ-FM Z-90.3 and XTRA-FM 91X — at LMSD headquarters in Sorrento Valley. LMSD’s press release did not mention its follow-up sale of the AM station to iHeart.

Officials with LMSD did not respond to requests for comment.

When Tegna’s sale to LMSD was announced in January, the projected escrow date was expected as Feb. 7, following approval from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). However, sources told the Times of San Diego that LMSD found the FCC bureaucracy was slower than expected in processing its paperwork.

Local media watchers are expecting LMSD and iHeart will eventually change the call letters for the two former KFMB stations. New call letters was reportedly a purchase requirement from Tegna in order to avoid confusion with its KFMB CBS 8 and The CW San Diego television properties. In February 2019, Tegna acquired the two radio stations and two TV properties for $325 million from Midwest Television, which had operated the San Diego broadcast outlets since the 1950s.

KYXY-FM Believes We Need a Little Christmas Now Amid Coronavirus

San Diego radio station KYXY 96.5-FM, known for 41 consecutive years of switching formats from adult contemporary to nonstop Christmas songs between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day, believes coronavirus hysteria stress is reason enough to experience Christmas in March. Beginning last week until who-knows-when, KYXY listeners can catch holiday tunes weekdays from noon to 1 p.m. and from 7 p.m. to midnight.

“Christmas music is a source of joy and a reminder of good things to come,” said Karyn Cerulli, senior VP and market manager, Entercom San Diego. “As San Diego’s go-to home for Christmas music, we wanted to bring back some holiday cheer during this time of uncertainty. Our team has heard of people in our community who are decorating their homes and we thought we would provide the playlist to go with it.”

The Christmas format is typically a rating booster for a number of U.S. radio stations. In Nielsen’s most recent holiday survey, from Dec. 5, 2019, to Jan. 1, 2020, records were set in Philadelphia and Los Angeles, according to trade publication Insider Radio.

Karyn Cerulli

With an 18.6 rating, WBEB 101.1-FM in Philadelphia gained two shares over its holiday 2018 performance, eclipsing its previous high mark of 17.9, set in the holiday 2016 book.

In Los Angeles, iHeart KOST 103.5-FM rose from 10.7 in 2016 to 11.9 in 2017, 13.0 in 2018 and 13.7 in 2019, which is believed to be the biggest share registered by any L.A. station since meters replaced diaries as ratings currency.

In San Diego, Philadelphia-based Entercom Communications Corp. (NYSE: ETM) operates five stations, including KSON 103.7-FM, KBZT 94.9-FM, KYXY 96.5-FM, KXSN Sunny 98.1-FM and KWFN 97.3-FM The Fan.

News 8 Named Media Sponsor of the San Diego COVID-19 Community Response Fund

KFMB-TV News 8 has been named the official media partner of the San Diego Foundation’s San Diego COVID-19 Community Response Fund. As of Sunday afternoon, the fund had collected $5.7 million in donations, including $30,000 from Tegna Foundation, an affiliate of Tegna, KFMB’s parent company.

The fund will provide grants in three areas, including food security, rental and utility assistance and income replacement or gap funding. The fund also will provide no-interest loans for nonprofit organizations to provide business and community services continuity.

“San Diegans care about one another, especially in times of need,” said Alberto Mier y Teran, KFMB TV president and GM. “News 8 is proud to support the San Diego COVID-19 Community Response Fund to help our most vulnerable neighbors impacted by this ongoing health crisis.”

The San Diego COVID-19 Community Response Fund, created in collaboration with a coalition of philanthropy, government and business partners, will deploy flexible resources to support programs and organizations addressing the effects of the coronavirus outbreak across San Diego County, officials said.

One hundred percent of donations to the San Diego COVID-19 Community Response Fund will be provided to nonprofits helping San Diegans impacted by the coronavirus. Funds will be released on a rolling basis as fundraising continues throughout the coronavirus outbreak and its recovery phases.

The San Diego COVID-19 Community Response Fund was created in partnership with San Diego Gas & Electric, Qualcomm Foundation, United Way of San Diego County and San Diego & Imperial Counties Labor Council with support from San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher. The public can donate to the fund at www.sdfoundation.org/COVID19.

In addition to Tegna, recent donations have included $1 million from SDG&E, $950,000 from the San Diego Foundation and $400,000 from the Alliance Healthcare Foundation, which included a $200,000 matching component to inspire additional giving. The United Way of San Diego County has received the first rapid response grant of $250,000, which will provide safety net funding for rent, mortgage and utilities payments for low-wage individuals and families impacted by layoffs and reduced working hours as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Survey: Media Consumption Increasing Because of Virus Concerns

It’s on every channel, every website and part of every conversation. The coronavirus has become all we’re talking about. “Shelter-in-place,” “isolation” and “social distancing” have become part of the daily vocabulary, along with “containment zones,” “lockdown” and “flattening the curve,” the latter often accompanied by visual hand cues. So, it’s no surprise to learn that virus worries have transformed a growing number of Americans into news fanatics.

During March 16-20, page views of news articles were 30 percent higher compared to the same time last year, according to news traffic data company Parse.ly. On some days last week, article views were 50 percent higher compared to the previous week. Parse.ly monitors content performance for more than 3,000 high-traffic sites, including the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, NBC, Conde Nast, Slate and TechCrunch.

In addition, an Ipsos national survey of 1,027 people, ages 18 and over, conducted March 13-15, confirmed that media consumption is increasing. One-third of respondents said they are consuming more news online and on TV.

The Ipsos survey, commissioned by radio company Cumulus Media-Westwood One, found that one in five heavy AM-FM radio listeners, defined as those who listen more than five hours a week, admit they have listened more to broadcast radio to keep informed about the virus outbreak. The survey also discovered that 55 percent of people who normally use public transportation to commute to work will use it less and probably drive their own car or truck to leave home to go to work. “This is important for the radio industry since a majority of radio listening occurs in the car,” the Ipsos survey concluded.

Rick Griffin

Rick Griffin is a San Diego-based public relations and marketing consultant. His MarketInk column appears weekly on Mondays in Times of San Diego.