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WLIR Frequency Rights Sold / Univision pays $60M to Morey Organization for 92.7FM

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

Gina DeGregorio.

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

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.

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