Local group buys KSRO, 4 other stations

  • Lawrence Amaturo is buying KSRO and other local radio stations. Amaturo previously owned KSRO 18 years ago.

    (Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat)

A local group of investors announced a $4.5 million deal Monday to buy five Sonoma County radio stations, including news/talk radio station KSRO.

The deal also includes four FM radio stations: 97.7 The River, Hot 101.7, Froggy 92.9 and Mix 104.9.

Lawrence Amaturo, who previously owned KSRO and three of the FM radio stations in the deal, is leading Sonoma Media Group LLC, the investment group that will take over operations in May.

"The opportunity was irresistible," Amaturo said. "More than half of this community is listening to these stations each week."

Amaturo first bought KSRO and three FM radio stations in 1996 and sold them in 2000 to Emerald City Radio Partners for nearly $30 million, he said.

The sale was announced to employees Monday at a staff meeting, where the news was met with excitement, staff members said.

"It's a big deal for all of us," said Steve Jaxon, host of "The Drive" on KSRO. "It's great to have local ownership again."

Amaturo is not planning any major changes to programming and intends to keep all of the staff on board, he said. He had not made decisions about the possibility of resuming shows canceled last fall, he said.

"We're not going to leave anything off the table," Amaturo said. "I'm going to try to be the best listener that I can to the team that is in place, to the advertisers who are benefiting from what we're doing well, and to be as good a listener as I can for as long as I can before I make any changes. Half the market is listening to them."

The stations, which attract about 200,000 listeners each week, hold a leadership position with listeners but haven't excelled in advertising or promotions, he said.

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