Ever wonder how a fast take, all-news (and commercials) radio format would sound on FM? Looks like Philadelphians will soon find out.
Merlin Media, headed by former newspaper executive Randy Michaels, announced Tuesday that it has won the bidding for WKDN Camden, located at the top of the dial at 106.9 FM. If Merlin follows the same course it recently took with FM outlets WWWN in Chicago and WEMP in New York, Camden's current home for non-denominational Christian "Family Radio" will soon be a news/talk rival for CBS Radio's long mighty KYW News Radio (1060 AM). A rebranded, all-news WKDN could also inflict ratings damage, especially in drive time, to FM public radio outlet WHYY.
Merlin hinted of the path in a press release reported by radioink.com and Radio-Info.com. "Merln Media is now actively looking for staff that can pronounce Schuykill, Wissahickon, Manayunk, Tredyffrin, Gwynedd, Pennsauken and Bryn Mawr."
Cherry Hill-based radio trade publication FMQB, also weighing in, noted that KYW owner CBS "had been rumored to be in the running to purchase WKDN." FMQB added that the Camden station's current owner, Family Stations, is steered by Harold Camping "the preacher who spent big earlier this year buying up outdoor advertising predicting the end of the world." Merlin Media's current news stations, both former Modern Rockers, were acquired earlier this year in a three station purchase from Emmis Communications, reported FMQB.
The application to transfer WKDN to Merlin "must be approved by certain regulatory agencies and other higher authorities," noted Merlin's statement.
Also ironic - given this story's premise and headline - you actually can tune in KYW's 20 minute news spin in higher sonic quality, digital FM form, at 94.1-2. But to do so requires a radio with HD tuning capability - a feature rarely found in home or portable receivers and only starting to show up in mainstream car radios in the last year or two. Merlin is betting big - tens of millions - that it can make a dent in the analog FM market before HD Radio ever takes off.