For the second time in less than three months, a local English-language radio station is switching to Spanish-language programming. KMVN-FM (93.9), the home of deejay Rick Dees, is handing the microphone over to Grupo Radio Centro, which owns 14 stations in Mexico, on April 15.
"The station is certainly improving its ratings, but is currently not profitable," Ryan Hornaday, a spokesman for Emmis Communications Corp., said Friday. "This is an opportunity to monetize the station and create additional liquidity."
Emmis, which also owns popular hip-hop outlet KPWR-FM (105.9), said it had entered into a long-term agreement with Grupo Radio Centro under which the Mexican broadcaster will pay $7 million a year for up to seven years -- with Grupo Radio Centro obligated to purchase the station outright for $110 million by the end of that period or find another buyer for it.
Indianapolis-based Emmis, which owns 23 radio stations nationwide, created a furor in 2006 when it dropped the country format at what was then KZLA-FM to install the rhythmic pop music format that it dubbed Movin', temporarily leaving a gaping hole for country music in the Southland.
In hopes of attracting new listeners, Emmis brought Dees on board a few months later after he was famously fired from his top-rated morning show at KIIS-FM (102.7). But neither Dees nor the format ever caught fire.
In the most recent Arbitron ratings, for March, KMVN was tied for No. 23 in the Los Angeles-Orange County market with an average of 1.8% of the audience.
"It was slowly building a larger audience share each month and each quarter, but unfortunately it just wasn't quick enough," Hornaday said.
In January, Santa Monica-based Entravision Communications Corp. dropped the rock music format at low-rated Indie 103 (heard as a simulcast on both KDLD-FM in Santa Monica and KDLE-FM in Newport Beach) in favor of Spanish-language programming.