Having signed off on its bankruptcy restructuring, Citadel Broadcasting Corp. is looking to reclaim formal ownership of Magic 107.5 in a move that would add a fifth station to its Charleston cluster.
The company recently asked regulators that it be reassigned the license to the adult-contemporary format. Not that listeners or advertisers will notice any difference if WMGL-FM changes hands. Citadel already runs the business.
A few years ago, ownership limits forced the divestiture of Magic 107.5 and other stations after their then-owner acquired some radio assets from ABC. The license has since been held by Last Bastion Station Trust, an affiliate of San Francisco-based Media Venture Partners. All the while, Citadel has continued to operate WMGL, which was ranked as No. 8 among the 27 local stations Arbitron tracked in its latest market survey.
Industry watcher RBR.com offered this observation about these interim ownership arrangements: "Stations have gone into various operating trusts, usually in hopes of finding a buyer," it said in a recent online posting. The website added that "in the current stagnant station trading environment, most of the movement we've seen out of the trusts has been either a recall due to changed local market conditions" or some other exit strategy.
Recalling WMGL's license will require Citadel to show a "change in circumstances" to the Federal Communications Commission. In this instance, that would be the relocation of the former Cat Country signal WNKT-FM from St. George to Eastover.
Now that WNKT has been broadcasting in Columbia for two years -- it's now a sports outlet dubbed "The Game" -- Citadel is applying to take Magic's license back for its Charleston lineup. Terms were not disclosed, but Last Bastion is receiving "no consideration," according to an FCC filing.
New York-based Citadel currently owns four local stations outright: WIWF: 96.9 The Wolf Country; WSSX 95SX Hit Music Now; WTMA-AM 1250 The Big Talker; and WWWZ Z93 JAMZ.
Citadel sought bankruptcy protection in December to cut its debt after revenues went south. It emerged from its swift restructuring about three months ago. Nationwide, the company owns 165 FM stations and 58 on the AM side of the dial.
Its local studios are off Leeds Avenue in North Charleston.
Reach John McDermott at 937-5572 or firstname.lastname@example.org.