Utah Jazz owner Larry Miller confirmed Monday night that he is trying to buy a local radio station.
"We thought we had (a station bought) about two weeks ago," Miller said.That deal, which was being arranged through a middleman, fell through, however, so Miller said, "We just decided to talk directly to the seller. We think we have a deal made."
Miller declined to reveal the name of the station, but rumor has it being KFAM (AM 700), a Bountiful-based station with an easy-listening format. According to a source at the station, KFAM has been for sale for years. The station's owner, Dave Williams, has received many offers but none that met his asking price of $1 million, the source said. The chief obstacle to a sale has been the station's low advertising revenue.
The source also said that a group representing a prospective buyer recently visited the station and later sent an engineer from another station to look over KFAM's facilities.
If Miller does buy a radio station, the obvious question is what will it mean for KISN (AM 570), the Jazz's flagship station. An all-sports station, KISN broadcasts all Jazz games. Radio and TV broadcasters Rod Hundley and Ron Boone are Jazz employees and would presumably switch to whichever station the Jazz affiliated with; Jazz Talk co-hosts Dave Blackwell and Steve Klauke are paid in part by the Jazz, in part by KISN.
"I don't know if (a station acquisition) necessarily would be with the intention of doing what KISN does," Miller said. "We'd still have to discuss the format . . . see what makes the most sense."
Miller may not have discussed format, but he does have a date in mind. "If we get the deal made, we hope to be operational by July 1," he said.
The Jazz owner said acquisition of a radio station is something he's considered for some time.
"We've thought it was something that would make sense, but we've never had the right property come along," he said. "There hasn't been a compelling deal."
KFAM currently employs 10 people. It's a 50,000-watt station - compared to KISN's 5,000 watts - but is required by the FCC to power down to 1,000 watts after sundown so as not to interfere with other stations at its dial location. According to a source at KFAM, the station uses a directional signal that roughly corresponds to the I-15 corridor and can be picked up as far away as Las Vegas during the day.
According to another source, power shouldn't be a major issue. KFAM could petition the FCC for an increase in power, and even without the power boost, KFAM - if it were to broadcast Jazz games - probably still could cover the state through affiliated stations and translators.
KISN is owned by Trumper Communications of Westmont, Ill. Besides Jazz games, KISN broadcasts Salt Lake Buzz games, NFL games, occasional college football and basketball (though not local teams) and some high school games.
Williams also owns General Telephone, a local pager company. Formerly of Bountiful, he now resides in Hawaii, where he runs Pager One, reportedly the largest pager and mobile phone service in the islands.