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Chain gets bigger slice of Portland radio

Entercom buys two stations and now ranks No. 1 in local market

Radio station chain Entercom Communications Corp. bought Portland's highly rated country stations KWJJ (99.5 FM) and KOTK (1080 AM) for $44 million last week from Seattle-based Fisher Communications Inc.

Fisher purchased the Portland country and talk stations in 1996 from Park Communications for $35 million.

Entercom takes over programming and advertising sales this week. The company is expected to keep program formats the same but shuffle some personnel to its Southwest Macadam Avenue headquarters.

The deal makes Entercom, with eight stations in Portland, 'the biggest player in the market now in terms of sheer numbers of people reached each week,' said Monica Cory, executive director of the Portland Area Radio Council. 'They're formidable. They were anyway but now even more so.'

Entercom, one of the nation's biggest radio broadcasters, operates more than 100 stations in 19 markets, including Seattle, Denver and Boston. The acquisition-minded company doubled in size in 1999 with the purchase of 41 stations from Sinclair Broadcasting Group.

With the Portland purchase, Entercom will go head-to-head with Infinity Broadcasting Co., which owns country station KUPL (98.7 FM), and will have the potential of reaching 1 million listeners. KWJJ's morning team of Mike Chase and Amy Faust has helped boost ratings.

Country is the dominant format in Portland.

'Entercom is a really strong operator, and it's good for the Portland market to acquire those stations,' said Kevin Young, general manager of KPAM (860 AM).

Combined, KWJJ and KOTK are rated No. 1 locally with adults 18 to 49 in the latest Arbitron Inc. report. KOTK carries Seattle Mariners baseball as well as talk show hosts Don Imus in the morning, Rick Emerson in the afternoon and Tom Leykis in the evening.

Fisher Communications, which owns TV station KATU (2), also sold two Georgia TV stations to cut its long-term debt of $258 million in half by the end of the year.

KATU appears to be safe from the auction block.

Unless 'somebody could come out of the blue and offer a king's ransom for some of our properties,' Fisher President William Krippaehne Jr. said in a statement, the company 'is not shopping any more properties at this time.'

The company does plan to sell or fold its Fisher Media Services division.

Entercom, based in Bala Cynwyd, Pa., operates six other stations here, including KGON (92.3 FM), KKSN (97.1 FM), KNRK (94.7 FM) and sports talk KFXX (910 AM). With the new purchase, which is subject to Federal Communications Commission approval, it will have a dominant hold over the Portland market.

Infinity Broadcasting Co. owns six Portland area stations, including KINK (102 FM) and KUFO (101.1 FM).

Clear Channel Communications Inc. owns five, including KEX (1190 AM) and KTLK (620 AM).

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