West Bend radio stations sold in package deal

By DAVE RANK - Daily News

July 5, 2014

WEST BEND - It will cost Magnum Communications Inc. $2.25 million to buy the four radio stations in West Bend and Racine from Bliss Communications Inc., radio trade industry media sources published Thursday.

The sale was announced last week without disclosing the sale price.

RadioInk, a radio management and marketing trade magazine, and other online radio industry news outlets reported the $2.25 million based on the contract attached to the parties’ application to the Federal Communications Commission. FCC approval is needed before the sale of Bliss Communications’ Racine Broadcasting Inc. and West Bend Broadcasting Inc. subsidiaries can be completed. The FCC has up to 120 days to make a decision.

According to the contract, Magnum must deposit $100,000 in earnest money and $12,500 in escrow up front. Bliss will continue to operate the stations until FCC approval is obtained.

That approval should not take long, said Ken Scott, the general manager for WBKV_AM and WBWI-FM in West Bend. He added, “We anticipate this should go very smoothly. We don’t see any obstacles in the way of this sale.”

Scott said the sale should be completed early in fall if not sooner. “That’s not a guarantee.”

West Bend Broadcasting has 16 employees, both full and part-timers, Scott said. WBKV has a news-talk format while WBWI offers country music.

While it remains up to Tomah-based Magnum Communications’ owner, Dave Magnum, to decide, Scott said he believed the West Bend stations likely will remain unchanged after the sale.

“The stations are very successful. We’re making money. I can only assume he’ll keep it as is,” Scott said. “Dave (Magnum) is a very fine Wisconsin broadcaster. I’m sure he’ll do a fine job running the stations.”

Last week, Dave Magnum told the Daily News it was too early to speculate on possible changes at the stations. “We’re just taking it all in,” he said in a telephone interview. “We’ve got time before we have to make any decisions like that.”

Also included in the sale are radio stations WRJN-AM (news-talk), WEZY-FM (light adult contemporary) in Racine. Bliss Communications, Janesville, has owned the West Bend stations since 1970. After the deal, Bliss Communications will own two radio stations in Janesville and continue to publish The Janesville Gazette.

Run by the Bliss family for more than 100 years, Bliss Communications owns and operates newspapers, radio stations and websites in Wisconsin and Illinois.

The Bliss family makes a point of finding an established Wisconsin radio broadcasting company to sell its station to, Scott said.

Station staffs were notified of the pending sale June 25.

When the sale is completed, Magnum will operate 16 radio stations, one Class A TV station and two lowpower TV stations, all in Wisconsin.