Disney’s decision yesterday to spin off its radio division into a new company, a $2.7 billion deal that includes KGO-AM and KSFO, raises some questions:

  • Will KGO Radio and KGO TV continue to share on-air talent and newsroom resources?
  • Will they continue to operate out of the same building on Front Street?
  • And who will get to use the “KGO” call letters in the future?

    Traditionally, when a TV and radio station share the same call letters and then one of the stations is sold, the station that had the call letters first gets to keep them. KGO-AM went on the air on Jan. 8, 1924, according to the oldradio.com web site, while KGO-TV 7 signed on 25 years later on May 9, 1949. Since Channel 7 is advertising itself these days as “ABC 7” the call letter change at the TV station may not be a problem.

    The new radio company will be owned by Disney and Citadel Broadcasting shareholders. It will enter into a 10-year licensing agreement allowing it to distribute ABC Radio News to some 4,600 terrestrial stations, but Disney will retain the rights to other formats, such as broadband, wireless and satellite. However, the new spin-off company will own programs such as “The Sean Hannity Show,” “Money Talk with Bob Brinker” and “Paul Harvey News and Comment.” But the deal does not include Radio Disney or ESPN Radio. [AP’s story] [ABC News’s version] [History of Citadel Broadcasting]

  • SF Press Club News, , ,


    1. The deal is, in essence, a merger that will have Disney remaining as 52% owner of the radio station group, with Citadel’s shareholders getting 48%.

      Citadel has already applied to transfer its stations to “the shareholders of Walt Disney Company & Citadel Broadcasting Corp.” according to the FCC Daily Digest (March 7 edition).

      Under this arrangement, I don’t think that any of the local stations — radio or TV — will move to new facilities or change call letters in the near future.

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