Monday, June 24, 2013

Nice E-Mail From Tom Nichols!

"Greetings from Memphis!

While reading your blog, it occurred to me there was no mention of how KAAY was almost saved a second time. I’m not sure if anyone knows but the three people involved.

In 1985, I was assistant Chief Engineer at WRVR Memphis, a Viacom station. As 24 year old radio geek, I didn’t have much patience for the Adult Contemporary format or the suit culture of Viacom. So, after a bit of searching, I was hired as Chief for a new station in Little Rock, KZOU or Zoo98. I started in April of 1986. I was also in charge of Zoo’s sister station, KOKY, at that time on 1250. I have always had a soft spot for AM directionl arrays and the legendary stations, so I spent a lot of time with Felix McDonald at KAAY.

Sometime in 1987 or thereabouts, KAAY went up for sale again. I met Felix out at the transmitter site, took a lot of pictures, and put together a proposal for KZOU / KOKY GM Hal Smith. My idea was to either simulcast KZOU, move KOKY over to 1090 (at that time Power 92 did not exist and KOKY was pulling respectable numbers), or make it a vintage oldies station.

By this time Dick Oppenheimer had sold KZOU / KOKY to Encore Communications, headed by former Metromedia exec George Duncan. Hal arranged for me to talk with Duncan the next time he was in town, which was only a few days away.

The short of the story is it…almost…I think...happened. The selling price was 1.5 million at the time. Although George Duncan was interested and I think made a few inquires, the selling price was the show stopper. I didn’t know it at the time, but KZOU / KOKY was carrying the Encore group, and financial troubles for the company were looming. I would like to think if Encore had been financially solid, it might have actually happened.

I still have that proposal around here somewhere, and if I can find it I’ll scan it for you. It was, of course, done on a typewriter and copy machine.

Tom Nichols
KZOU / KOKY 1986-1989
KSSN 1989-1990
WMC AM/FM Memphis 1990-1994
WMC-TV Memphis 1994-1997"

Thanks for writing in, Tom!  We're looking forward to the scanned documents...we're very interested in the hidden history of KAAY!  Please keep in touch...

...and, for anyone who reads this blog, no matter how trivial you may think something may be regarding KAAY, PLEASE send it on in for us to share with MAY be a link to something they've been searching for, for years!

Again, thanks Tom!

Bud S. (


  1. I thought @ that time a company couldn't have two AM stations. From what I heard before the sale from Mulitimedia to Sudbrink went through, Phillip Jonsson was trying to unload 1010AM KLRA to be able to purchase KAAY. Otherwise, Signal Media of Arkansas would more than likely own it today.

  2. Hollis W. DuncanJune 24, 2013 at 9:05 PM

    Tom's engineering career in Little Rock began just as mine was ending. I left KLRT-TV in May 1985 for Seattle. Multimedia quietly had KAAY on the block as early as 1982. It sounds to me as if you proposal was a good one and I'm sorry that it didn't happen.

    As an aside, my first job as Chief Engineer was at KALO, with the 3-tower array behind Shakey's and studios at Stifft's Station on Markham. I took that little station from the 1940s to the 1980s in a very short amount of time - lots of war stories there.

    This was not the only potential sale of KAAY to fall through. I met Pat Walsh for lunch while I was CE at KAAY. Pat pumped me for inside information and I basically spilled my guts. I don't know why Pat never regained control of KAAY - he certainly deserved to.

    In 1985, Larry Duke of KFIN-Jonesboro (and former KARN Sales Manager) had a deal to buy KAAY for $1.5 Million and could have pulled it off - KFIN was (and may still be) a powerhouse in Northeast Arkansas. Larry told me that he had the deal with Multimedia until he received a call from Paul Fiddick telling him that there had been a "misunderstanding" and suddenly Multimedia head Jim Jolley wouldn't take his phone calls. Larry said that something funny was going on with the sale of KAAY and I agree.

    Tom's tale is one more for the file. However, I think that i can explain it.

  3. Wow, and I had NO idea. But then again, I wasn't exactly in the loop 11 years later when Beasley sold the station to Citadel, despite me being there in its midst. But I will say that it would've been surprising if Woody Sudbrink had sold the station for 1.5 million, when he sold it to Beasley in the spring of '87 with a much heftier price tag on it (2.6 million). But always love finding out stories of "what might have been," especially in regards to the once Mighty 1090.

  4. Ah, WMC-FM (FM 100) Memphis. One of the only "superpower" grandfathered FM stations in the US with 290,000 watts. I used to listen to it clear as a bell in Hot Springs back in the 80's when it was a bit edgier rock format.

    Here's a neat article about the "superpower" FM stations:

  5. Actually, WMC-FM runs 300,000 watts horizontal and 100,000 watts vertical. Their CP file made interesting reading while were trying to rehabilitate the WMC-FM antenna without replacing it and being forced to downgrade to 100,000 watts horizontal. It was probably an RCA and it looks like they replaced the FM antenna a piece at a time.

    The WMC AM-FM-TV site is worth driving by if you ever in Memphis. It has a 4-tower AM array with a taller tower wit WMC-FM and WMC-TV. Having a tall tower in an AM array is never a good idea but it is a neat-looking array.

    Beasley sold KAAY to KAAY Limited Partnership in Florida who then sold it to Citadel. KAAY Limited may have been a Beasley subsidiary. There is not much on them in the FCC files. And I wish that there was a whole lot less on Citadel.