Sale of AM820 is Bittersweet

| September 9, 2011 | 7 Comments

Folks, here is an excerpt from a WOSU press release issued this afternoon.  This is bittersweet in that 820AM has been part of WOSU and Ohio State since 1922, but we’ve planned for years to move our focus to FM to grow our listenership and this completes the circle.

WOSU Public Media announced today it has signed an agreement to sell its 820 AM radio station. The $2 million dollar sale was approved by the Ohio State Board of Trustees today. The buyer is St. Gabriel Radio, Inc., which provides Catholic radio in central Ohio. Transfer of ownership is pending FCC approval, which should occur by the end of the year. St. Gabriel, Inc. will be running the station under new call letters yet to be determined.

The sale of the AM station by WOSU is part of our plan to build listenership that began in December 2010 with the purchase of 101.1 FM and the launch of Classical 101, which allowed WOSU’s 89.7 FM to shift to an all-day NPR and local news station.

“This was necessary to cover the up-front costs of the purchase of 101.1 FM. Now, we can focus our complete attention to strengthening our two FM stations—89.7, central Ohio’s only 24-hour NPR news station, and Classical 101 which brings listeners the finest in classical music all-day every day,” said Tom Rieland, WOSU Public Media’s general manager.

AM 820 has been duplicating the NPR programming schedule on 89.7 FM over the last nine months. Listeners of WOSU AM should tune to 89.7 FM to continue receiving the quality news programming they have come to expect such as All Sides with Ann Fisher and national programming like NPR’s Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Talk of the Nation.

For the second straight year, WOSU 89.7 was voted the Best Radio News Operation in Ohio by the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists.  The news team, headed by News Director Mike Thompson,  also captured a first place award for  Best Continuing Coverage for its coverage of “Ohio’s Sour Economy” and WOSU Reporter Mandie Trimble won three top awards.


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Category: History, Ohio State University, WOSU General

  • Teri

    Hi Tom, congratulations; I am not surprised at the sale of 820, I figured it to be the eventual outcome when 89.7 added NPR programming. But I admit, I’m disappointed it didn’t get snapped up by the Dispatch Broadcast Group because I was hoping, if they had another AM, there would be somewhere to air the Cleveland Indians broadcasts. Ah well. Bittersweet, yes, but radio is changing (and I really miss being a part of it) so you just have to keep ahead of the game.

    Teri Silver

  • Kate

    I heard the listing of all the OSU trustees and the St. Gabriel bit on the radio this morning and have to admit to being puzzled. I had no idea WOSU sold out to Christian Radio. I guess this solves my WOSU vs WCBE dilemma . . .

    • Tom Rieland

      Kate, the plan for years at WOSU was to attempt to establish an all news FM station and an all-classical FM station, since listenership to AM has been declining. Since we have accomplished this with 89.7 FM and 101.1 FM, we are selling the AM station to help finance these moves. Listening to NPR on AM is a losing proposition. Only about 3 percent of NPR listening nationwide is on the AM band. WOSU will have the only all day NPR station in Columbus.

  • esmail

    Sorry to hear the loss of the AM signal, I often get better reception on AM than on FM (and I’m right smack downtown).

  • Ferd

    I listen daily to WOSU 820 on a 1941 tube radio (belonged to my grandparents). I guess I’ll have to modernize (sigh). I understand the reason for the sale of 820, but will mourn the loss.

    • esmail

      Same here .. I carry around an old transistor radio from my youth when I’m home to listen to NPR .. oddly enough, the signal is better on it than via my FM radio.

  • Richard

    What a shame to see WOSU move off of 820 Kilocycles (yes, I know it’s now kHz). One thing we will loose is the wide area coverage of medium wave AM. I have listened to 820 AM as I drive around Ohio for years. It’s ironic that the station most known for neutrality is selling to a broadcaster with a point of view to advocate. I oppose the ownership and use of radio spectrum by corporate advocacy.