The only local station that will play new music by Tom Petty, Neil Young, and Ziggy Marley may soon be reaching your ears for the first time.
Triple-A (adult album alternative) station KPRI was recently granted permission to move its transmitter from San Marcos to Mt. Soledad. Once set up, the signal will reach southern San Diego County for the first time and provide the full-market coverage of most other local FM stations. As a result, the two owners of KPRI (Bob Hughes and Jonathan Schwartz) may have doubled their station's value.
Insiders estimate that KPRI at its current transmitter location is worth between $30 million and $35 million. After the transmitter is moved (perhaps by the end of the year), the station's value may increase to between $50 million and $65 million. Radio executives at other stations wonder if Hughes and Schwartz will sell the station they have owned and operated for ten years. (They've been trying to relocate their transmitter for seven years.)
Hughes and Schwartz recently invested in an all-digital studio in Sorrento Valley, so a sale is not imminent. But "if the right offer came along," says Hughes, they would consider it.
Should Hughes and Schwartz sell KPRI, it is questionable whether a new owner would keep KPRI's triple-A format. Hughes boasts that his station helped break artists such as John Mayer and K.T. Tunstall, but some wonder if a different format would make more money. Triple-A stations in San Francisco, Chicago, and Denver get big ratings, but the format is not hugely successful in other markets. KPRI is one of three triple-A stations in California.