A local group of investors announced a $4.5 million deal today to buy five Sonoma County radio stations, including news/talk radio station KSRO.
The deal, which will be completed in May, also includes 97.7 The River, Hot 101.7, Mix 104.9 and Froggy 92.9.
Lawrence Amaturo, who previously owned KSRO and several other radio stations, will become the owner/operator of the group, called Sonoma Media Group LLC.
"The opportunity was irresistible," Amaturo said. "More than half of this community is listening to these stations each week."
Amaturo first bought KSRO and three other radio stations in 1996 and sold them in 2000 for nearly $30 million, he said.
An announcement was made today at a staff meeting, where the news was met with excitement, staff members said.
"It's a big deal for all of us," said Steve Jaxon, host of "The Drive" on KSRO. "It's great to have local ownership again."
Amaturo is not planning any major changes to programming and intends to keep all the staff on board, he said.
"I'm going to try to be the best listener that I can to the team that is in place, to the advertisers who are benefiting from what were doing well, and to be as good a listener as I can for as long as I can before I make any changes," Amaturo said. "Half the market is listening to them."
The stations are currently owned by Maverick Media Group LLC. Gary Rozynek, president and CEO of Maverick, told employees Monday that the company had wanted to expand into other markets, but couldn't figure out how to get the capital, said Kent Bjugstad, general manager for all five stations.
"I think what's happening is radio is going back to what it used to be," Bjugstad said. "Now, the sense is that more local ownership will be happening across the U.S."
Rozynek was traveling and did not return phone calls for comment.
Sonoma Media Group, the group of investors buying the radio stations, has no overlap with Sonoma Media Investments, the group that owns The Press Democrat, Amaturo said.