Sinclair rids itself of Seattle radio stations

(Image: Sinclair Broadcasting Group/Handout, Graphic: The Desk)

The Sinclair Broadcast Group has sold off its four radio stations in Seattle, ending the company’s short tenure as a radio broadcaster.

The stations were acquired by Lotus Communications, a privately-held media company based in Los Angeles whose portfolio includes around four dozen radio stations along the western United States.

“Our company is focused on radio in the west,” Jim Kalmenson, a senior executive at Lotus Communications, told the Puget Sound Business Journal in an interview. “We’re in California, Nevada, Arizona, Idaho and now Washington.”

Or, at least, they will be soon: Sinclair, which is based in Maryland, said it expects the deal to close later this year, assuming it sales through the regulatory process.

The deal is valued at around $18 million, according to people familiar with the transaction, and includes all of Sinclair’s radio properties, which were concentrated in Seattle. Those stations include KOMO (1000 AM, 97.7 FM), KPLZ (101.5 FM) and KVI (570 AM). The KOMO radio station is counted twice because it holds two separate broadcast licenses.

The radio stations came under Sinclair’s ownership when it merged with Fisher Communications in 2013. In addition to the radio stations, Sinclair acquired around three dozen television stations, including Seattle’s ABC affiliate KOMO-TV (Channel 4), which it still owns.

Kalmenson speculated Sinclair wanted to divest the stations because running a radio broadcasting business is different from that of television.

Lotus will maintain the pre-acquisition staff at the radio stations in Seattle and does not plan to make any notable changes to employees or on-air presentation.

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