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San Diego Firm Buys Its 18th Radio Station

San Diego County Business Editor

Noble Broadcast Group of San Diego has acquired its 18th radio station, KYOK-AM of Houston, for $2.5 million, a deal that makes Noble the largest privately held radio chain in terms of stations owned.

Only Capital Cities/ABC with 21 radio stations and CBS with 18 stations equal or surpass Noble and both are publicly held media conglomerates, according to Radio & Records, an industry trade magazine published in Los Angeles.

The purchase of KYOK, a 5,000-watt station with an urban “heart and soul” format, is Noble’s seventh acquisition this year. Noble has spent $115 million on those purchases, president John Lynch said in an interview Wednesday. Seller of KYOK was All-Pro Inc., a Los Angeles media company owned by former Green Bay Packer football star Willie Davis.

In April, Noble bought top-rated KMJQ-FM in Houston from Keymarket Communications for $65 million, then the largest price ever paid for a stand-alone FM station. KMJQ, which also has an urban soul format, ranked first among Houston FM stations last month with a 9.3% audience share according to Arbitron, Lynch said.

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With the acquisition of KYOK, Noble will “corner the market” for urban music-formated radio in Houston, Lynch said. KYOK now has a 1% audience share among Houston AM stations, he said.

More Acquisitions Planned

According to Lynch, Noble plans to acquire six more radio stations by the end of 1989, bringing its total stations owned to 24, the maximum allowed by the Federal Communications Commission. The company has targeted the San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington and Atlanta markets for acquisitions, Lynch said.

Once it owns the maximum stations allowable, Noble may turn to acquiring or developing a radio network. And Noble’s recent acquisition of a Muzak franchise in Toledo may lead to other similar buys, he said.

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“The purchase certainly marks another step in Noble’s development as a major broadcasting force in the country,” Radio & Records financial editor Pat Clawson said Wednesday. “I’m sure (Lynch) is going to hit the maximum ceiling soon, and more power to him.”

Founded in 1977, Noble consisted of only two radio stations as recently as 1985. But the loosening of FCC restrictions on station ownership and licensing, combined with the increased availability of financing and venture capital for entrepreneurs, has stimulated the growth of several multistation chains, including Noble.


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