KSRO 1350-AM and its radio-dial siblings (97.7 the River, Hot 101.7, Froggy 92.9 and Mix 104.9) have been sold to local owners by Connecticut-based parent company Maverick Media. The assemblage of new investors is led by former KSRO owner and Sonoma County resident Lawrence Amaturo.
The sale was announced to employees on Monday, says KSRO news producer Tony Landucci. "I'm definitely optimistic with the ownership being local," he says. "I'm excited to see how it will be different having local ownership rather than someone on the other side of country."
Amaturo, who is a co-owner of Nissan and Kia of Santa Rosa, sold KSRO and three other stations in 2000 for $30 million, reportedly paying $4.5 million for the radio properties in this deal.
Maverick Media was not exactly popular with local listeners. When afternoon host Steve Jaxon of The Drive was cut in 2010, listeners protested and he was back on the air within weeks. In 2011, the company killed popular hard-rock station 101.7 the Fox and replaced it with a Top 40 format, prompting a protest outside the station. And when the Good Food Hour with John Ash was axed from KSRO last year, the response was a mix of anger and confusion.
"Everybody's very happy, because no one liked being owned by a company in Connecticut that didn't know anything about Sonoma County," says Jaxon of the sale. On Amaturo's ownership, Jaxon has nothing but enthusiasm. "I was there in 1996 when he bought the stations," he says. "He was new to the market then, but now he's been here 25 years, and he knows the market inside out. It's gonna be a great day for radio."—Nicolas Grizzle