BALLSTON SPA — Empire Broadcasting Corporation closed on a deal to sell 101.3 WJKE to Educational Media Foundation.
The deal between the two was brokered earlier this month for a price of $550,000 and will enable Educational Media to pair WJKE with its existing broadcast on 94.5 WYKV, a Christian contemporary radio station, out of Selkirk. The Federal Communications Commission must now approve the deal before it is finalized.
“[The offer] came out of the blue,” said Empire Broadcasting partner Joe Reilly, who said Educational Media approached the Ballston Spa-based media group with the intent to purchase 101.3 WJKE.
Educational Media’s new acquisition will extend the reach of its broadcast north of Albany into Saratoga and west to Schenectady. WYKV’s signal strength ends where WJKE’s begins. The nonprofit media group specializes in adult contemporary Christian music, managing more than 240 radio stations from its headquarters in Sacramento, Calif.
Empire Broadcasting first acquired The Jockey in 2012 for $1.2 million in a package deal including “Moon Radio 900” WABY Watervliet, “106.1 The X” (and its AM radio component 1160 WAIX) Mechanicsville and “Empire News Network” 1240 WPTR Schenectady.
Despite several ownership changes through the years, The Jockey’s programming stayed relatively consistent since it first aired in 1988 under the call sign WSSV. Known as “The Jockey” since 2013, WJKE served adult contemporary programming to its primary audience in Saratoga County, whose name paid homage to the Saratoga Race Course.
The ownership change helps bolster the stable of on-air personnel for “106.1 The X.” Though Empire Broadcasting eliminated two on-air personalities from WJKE, a third moves over to the new local radio program.
Since “106.1 The X” changed its programming focus from Bloomberg News to adult album alternative in June, public reception has been favorable, said Reilly. Within a few months of its launch, Reilly said listenership ratings were comparable to long established WKJE. The X specializes in broadcasting “deep cut” alternative tracks along with an extensive catalog of songs from local artists.
“I’m a firm believer in total-local radio,” said Reilly, who said traditional media has suffered to capture the “eyes and ears” of larger audiences because of the internet. “The only way, frankly, radio will succeed in the long run will be through local programming.”
Michael Hallisey is managing editor of Spotlight Newspapers.