Music station

subsidiary of WNKU sold to country music station; format to be determined

While WNKU will soon switch to religious content, a different fate awaits its Middletown branch.

That’s because a country music station in Grant County, Ky. Announced on Thursday that it had bought WNKN (105.9 FM) from Northern Kentucky University for $ 5.3 million.

The future format of WNKN is still undecided.

WNKN, a repeater station for 89.7 FM WNKU, broadcasts the same programs as WNKU in the Middletown area.

Charlotte’s Bible Broadcasting Network bought WNKU for $ 1.9 million in February, sparking anger among fans of the station’s alternative adult album format. This means that the music of artists like Big Star, Elvis Costello and the Velvet Underground will give way to readings from the Bible.

This change will happen once the Federal Communications Commission approves the sale, which NKU officials expect to happen in August or September.

Dry Ridge-based Grant County Broadcasters, which operates classic country music station WNKR-FM (106.7 FM), bought WNKN for more than its parent station because its signal was stronger and had more listeners, NKU officials said.

Just because the buyer is a country music station, doesn’t mean WNKN will be country too. Grant County Broadcasters has yet to decide on the format, President Jeff Ziesmann said in a statement.

“The company will convert the station back into a for-profit commercial operation and conduct research that will determine the format that will present the best ratings and revenue opportunities for the station,” Ziesmann said.

The alternate format of the adult album is an option, Ziesmann said.

Grant County Broadcasters was the highest of four bids on WNKN. NKU will not release the names of other bidders, but Louisville Public Radio had earlier announced that it was interested in buying the station and keeping its public radio format.

“We want to focus on what’s best for students,” said Rich Boehne, chairman of the board of NKU. “This takes us out of the continued operating losses of the stations. It means that the students are no longer subsidizing the operation of the radio.”

The sale of WNKN must also go through the same FCC approval process as WNKU. WNKN will continue the current WNKU format until its sale is completed.

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