Friday, August 10, 2018

CA Radio: KPRO AM Goes Dark, Land More Valuable

The Riverside, CA market lost a radio station last Friday, as KPRO 1570 AM left the air, a victim of declining AM radio listenership and vastly increasing value of property in Southern California, which makes the land many stations sit on worth more than the stations themselves.

The Press-Enterprise reports it’s a station with a local presence dating back to 1957 when it was put on the air by husband and wife Ray and Helen Lapica and Helen’s sister, Ollie Shervan. After the three original owners passed away, ownership transferred to Ray and Helen’s children, Ronnie Olenick and Larry Lapica.

According to Olenick, her father originally ran the station much like he thought a newspaper should run. “He’d go out to the city council meetings and interview local politicians. He liked to editorialize,” she told me this week. “In many ways, it was the beginning of local talk radio!”

“He thought he would be able to use the station to make an impact on the community,” Olenick explained. “What he didn’t realize is that you can’t make an impact unless you sell ads, and ads can be hard to sell.”

Over the years, the call letters changed a few times. Originally they were KACE; 1976 brought KHNY; KMAY came in 1978, and the KPRO calls have been in use since 1986.

For the past 30 years or so, the broadcasts have been religious, the most recent years as block programming sold to ministers and preachers. That hasn’t paid the bills, though. Olenick explained that she and her brother have been putting their own money into the station for quite some time.

“We did it because we knew the land was worth something,” she said.

In the end, it was a tough decision to let the station go, due to the longtime family and local community connections.

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