The Morey Organization has sold the rights to the 92.7 FM
frequency, home to the WLIR radio station, to Spanish-language media giant
Univision for $60 million in cash, the companies said yesterday.
Under terms of the deal, Garden City-based Morey will retain the WLIR call
letters, the station's staff and its modern rock format, and it plans to
transfer everything to a new frequency by January, said company spokeswoman
Univision, the largest owner of U.S.-based Spanish-language TV and radio
stations, will convert the frequency to a "Hispanic-targeted format," a company
spokeswoman said. Long Island has no FM Spanish-language stations.
Although Morey owns other stations - WXXP/105.3 FM, WDRE/98.5 FM and the
107.1 FM frequency, which it uses to simulcast WLIR to East End listeners -
it's looking for a new frequency for WLIR, DeGregorio said.
"Our die-hard listeners on Long Island are still going to have their
heritage radio station," she said.
The deal is scheduled to be completed early next year and is probably not
subject to the Federal Communications Commission's media ownership rules
because Univision owns just two other New York stations, WCAA/105.9 FM and
WADO/1280 AM, said Tom Taylor, who follows the industry for New
Hampshire-based Web site InsideRadio.com.
Although Morey sold the Vanderbilt catering hall in Plainview earlier this
year, that sale has nothing to do with unloading the frequency, DeGregorio
said. In fact, the frequency wasn't even on the block. Asked how it came about,
DeGregorio said, "Things happen.
"They've been approached to sell the station before, but they didn't want
to," she said. Keeping the WLIR format "was the whole point of the deal."
Although based on Long Island, the frequency is valuable because it reaches
Nassau County, parts of Suffolk County, the five boroughs and parts of
Westchester, New Jersey and Connecticut. Last month, Morey filed an application
with the FCC for a low-power booster, or same-frequency transmitter, near
Lincoln Center in Manhattan, allowing the station to be heard in areas of the
city where the signal was obstructed by skyscrapers.
It made sense to sell the frequency because Morey wants WLIR to be more
Long Island-oriented, but the frequency reached large numbers of non-Long
Island listeners, DeGregorio said.
For Univision, the deal allows it to compete with Spanish Broadcasting
System, owner of two Manhattan-based Spanish-language FM stations. The two are
fierce rivals and the two dominant players in Spanish-language radio, said
Taylor of InsideRadio.