Radio stations change ownership

By By Bill Rautenstrauch The Observer August 08, 2012 09:59 am

A pair of local radio stations that have broadcast in La Grande and Baker City since the late 1980s came under local ownership recently, purchased by a group that says it wants the revenue generated by the stations to stay here.

Last week, Elkhorn Media Group, headed by Randy McKone, put the finishing touches on a deal that gives it ownership of KCMB 104.7, and KWRL 99.9. Elkhorn Media bought the stations from long-time owners Capps Broadcast Group, for an undisclosed sum. Capps owns stations in Walla Walla, Pendleton and the Tri-Cities, Wash.

The Capps corporate office is in Pendleton, and until recently owners Dave and Clare Capps resided in Texas.  McKone said the the members of the Elkhorn group, on the other hand, are all local people with a passion for the community.

“We grew up here, we’ve lived here, we like being here,” McKone said. “When people spend ad dollars with us, the money will stay here. It’s not going to Texas or Pendleton or Walla Walla.”

McCone, who  worked for Capps 30 years and managed KCMB and KWRL for 16, is the new group’s president and CEO. McKone’s long-time associates Tori Gandy and Colleen Kaseberg, both are vice presidents and media consultants. Jeff Carpenter, a Baker City native who started his radio career in Baker City and most recently worked for KSRV in Ontario, is head of operations.

KCMB is a country station, while KWRL plays adult contemporary music. In addition to the musical fare, the stations broadcast local news and sports. McKone said those features will remain.

“The formats are very successful and our commitment to local content remains the same,” he said. “In fact, you’ll probably see greater involvement.”

Added Carpenter, “I think you’ll see a lot more community involvement. We all believe in having a small town feel. We’ve all dealt with corporate radio, and we don’t think that’s where we should be.”

McCone said Elkhorn Media Group employs seven people full time. He said there are plans for staff to re-open the Baker City studios that have been closed for a number of years.

“We’re locally owned and operated and it’s important to have the local presence. We’ll make that happen,” he said.

McKone said he is grateful for support the radio stations have received from local businesses over the years.

“This opportunity wouldn’t have been possible without the relationships we’ve built,”
he said.