Is ex-Padres owner John Moores trying to buy our airwaves?
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.”