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At $1.8 Million, Hubbard Translator Purchase Tops the Heap

Enhancing local listenership is the aim

In what has been called the biggest translator deal to date, Hubbard Radio moved to purchase translator K224CJ from Happy Dog Communications for $1.8 million.

The translator currently rebroadcasts KAZG(AM), an oldies station at 1440 kHz in Scottsdale. The deal will ensure Hubbard’s ongoing simulcast of the station, which has relayed on the signal since September 2015.

The translator is located on a tower farm on South Mountain Park, part of a sprawling 16,000-acre preserve on the outskirts of Phoenix. The translator was purchased in 2012 by Happy Dog owners Kenneth Brentlinger and Michael Mallace.

The sale topples the former top-spot holder when it comes to translator sales: Windy City Broadcasting spent $1 million to purchase W280EM in 2014.

The news marks yet another time that Hubbard and its radio stations have made headlines for its broadcast investments. Hubbard’s WTOP(FM) in Washington, was ranked as the highest grossing revenue station in 2016 by BIA/Kelsey. The station’s $67.5 million in gross revenues accounted for about 25% of the total radio advertising revenue in the D.C. market in 2016, according to BIA/Kelsey’s “2017 Investing in Radio Market Report.”

Hubbard’s investment in the Phoenix market seems to mirror the industry’s continuing focus on boosting local listenership.

“In an age where consumers have many entertainment choices, local radio maintains its strength and popularity in the marketplace among national and local advertisers,” said Mark Fratrik, senior vice president and chief economist at BIA/Kelsey. Radio is on a growth curve: In 2017, radio industry revenues are expected to reach a total of $14.9 billion, representing 10.5% of the $148.8 billion U.S. local advertising marketplace, as estimated by BIA/Kelsey.