Is ex-Padres owner John Moores trying to buy our airwaves?
  • Is ex-Padres owner John Moores trying to buy our airwaves?
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Is former Padres owner John Moores about to squeeze the music out of a local radio station?

Since he sold the Padres for a reported $800 million, Moores has jumped feet first into local radio. In January, his investment capital company, JMI Equity, bought controlling interest of BCA (Broadcast Company of Americas) from the Viejas tribe. BCA runs oldies station the Walrus (FM 105.7) and sports station the Mighty 1090. Both stations have seen ratings upticks this year.

Insiders are saying that Moores is now talking to the owners of 91X and FM94/9 about taking over operation of those stations. Since FM94/9 adopted a more mainstream approach last year, the two stations are competing for the same listeners. FM94/9 is currently in 16th place among all listeners countywide, while 91X is in 18th place.

While it is unclear what Moores would do with either station, insiders say a likely scenario would be that he might simulcast Mighty 1090 on one of those FM signals. Sports programming has replaced music on the FM dial in several major-market cities.

Another option is that Moores could move the Walrus from its current frequency to either FM94/9 or 91X, both of which have superior market coverage.

An attempt to get a response from Moores through his assistant was unsuccessful, but Mike Shepard, head of programming for BCA, says that Moores is in fact in the hunt for other local stations. “He is bullish on radio,” says Shepard. Executives at Local Media San Diego (91X) did not respond to a request for comment. John Dimick, who oversees radio for Lincoln Financial (FM94/9), said, “No comment.”

Moores may not be the only person looking to make a move in radio. Other insiders wonder if former radio exec John Lynch, who was lauded as a visionary in the ’80s when he created 91X as a modern-rock station and brought San Diego its first all-sports station (XTRA Sports 690), is hankering to get back into radio.

Lynch is the right-hand man for U-T publisher Doug Manchester. “I think Lynch knows that this UT-TV thing is a major flop. No one is watching,” says a radio insider. “Plus, he just pulled the plug on [daily Temecula/Murrieta newspaper] The Californian and fired the whole staff. He just bought it last year. That’s a major failure. I’m sure he misses being a radio king.”

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Comments

Ken Leighton June 5, 2013 @ 2:02 p.m.

It needs to be made clear that Moores does not own Walrus 105.7 or Mighty 1090. They are Mexican stations and US nationals can not own Mexican radio stations. What Moores is doing now and what the Viejas tribe did before him is actually lease the stations from a Mexican owner who simply collects a lease fee from Moores. Moores does call the shots as if he was the owner, deciding what format the station will adopt. If he were to take over 94/9 which an American station, he could lease it or buy it outright. If he were to take over 91X by itself or along with its two sister stations (Magic 92.5 and Z-90), he would have to lease them as well since they are also Mexican stations. I would predict Mr. Moores will get expand his local radio footprint and that it would be announced this year. Folks I have talked to say that Walrus has never sounded better with the addition of legendary DJ Rich Brother Robbin. It is my personal opinion that Mighty 1090 (which just bought a ton of TV ads) is also sounding great except that Scott and BR should go back to mornings. The only reason they aren't is because Scott Kaplan thinks there is value in UT-TV which uses him as a morning host. I agree with his partner Billy Ray Smith who apparently thinks there is no point to UT-TV. Smith walked away from UT-TV after co-hosting the morning show with Kaplan for a few months. If Moores moves either the Walrus or 1090 to an American FM, their listeners would no longer have to put up with those awful commercials the Mexican government makes all Mexican stations run. You know, the ones that tell you you shouldn't vote for someone in exchange for a pound of beans.

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davidtanny10 June 5, 2013 @ 8:54 p.m.

Speaking of awful, 91X is running a Mexican PSA featuring one man playing two female roles. Dude, this is f---ed up, right there.

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davidtanny10 June 5, 2013 @ 8:47 p.m.

105.7 simulcasted XX 1090 for a year in 2007. Not sure what ratings it had as an FM. It was gone the next year when Walrus was launched. 98.9 tried ESPN Radio for a year. It bombed. It's back to Rock en Espanol, a station I usually tune in on weekends when they play a mix of new wave and Spanish rock hits. 103.7 had talk for nearly three years and it was sacked in 2007. I for one don't care for more talk radio. Sports talk is interesting only just before or after a play by play game, else, I prefer to listen to modern rock and EDM music. If anything, San Diego could use a 24/hour EDM or dance-leaning modern rock format instead of another talker I won't bother to tune in for. AM needs more music like Mikey Z's "Sock Hop Saturday Night" as a format instead of more talk. Music runs better in the background at work instead of talk. John Moores has his ideas wrong. I never watch UT-TV because I don't have a stupid converter box and I refuse to have one. Another FM talker will tank in the ratings. We need more good music stations locally.

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Ken Leighton June 6, 2013 @ 12:58 p.m.

The reality is that some major cities like New York and Phoenix have NO alternative stations. San Diego has two. PLUS KPRI and Rock 105 play many of the same songs that 91X and 949 play. It could be argued that there are just many modern rock stations. It''s different when 94/9 had an adventuresome playlist and sounded a lot different than 91-X. Not so much now. Another point though is that San Diego just isn't all that into sports compared to other more urban cities that do support sports on FM. It also should be noted that the FM sports in San Francisco has not done that well. The ESPN feed on 98.9 a few years ago is not a valid example because it was just a satellite feed. Mighty 1090 is mostly local and they have a full staff of talented, live and local personalities. I think that Moores is buoyed by the fact that his stations have never sounded better, they are doing well in the ratings, and he kind of likes this radio thing. And oh yeah, he has the scratch to keep his dream rolling. He is doing this, by the way, in a very professional and quiet way. I am sure he didn't want this article out. He will jump on the right station when it makes sense. He isn't so hungry to take over new stations that he will jump on a deal that doesn't make sense. Another possibility is that Moores may just want to move his two stations to different FM signals and just give up on BCA altogether which includes FM 105.7 and 1090 and 1700 AM. The later station is completely worthless. You can't get it in North County. 1090 has a huge So Cal signal, but it barely moves the ratings needle in L.A. Don't know how much ad money he gets because 1090 gets into L.A. One thing for sure, with radio getting harder and harder to be profitable (with Sirius XM and Pandora etc) you clearly don't want that additional monkey on your back known as the Mexican PSA.

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Ken Leighton June 8, 2013 @ 2:52 p.m.

As it turns out, the staff of FM-94/9 was told that yes, Moores did in fact make an offer for 94/9, but that it was way too low and Moores was told no thank you. No word form the 91X folks. But it is clear that Moores wlll be making more offers. Maybe even to Lincoln Financial (94/9) again.

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