UPDATED — Two years after entering the Wichita radio market, Manhattan-based Rocking M Media is leaving it.
A new Wichita company, Allied Media Partners, is buying Rocking M’s six stations in Wichita, Winfield and Wellington.
“We will become the one-and-only Wichita-based company to have a cluster of FM radio stations in Wichita,” says CEO Matt Baty.
The Wichita stations include KIBB, 97.1-FM, which is known as Bob; KVWF, 100.5-FM, which is known as Flight, KKGQ, 92.3-FM, which is known as Kansas Country; and KWME, 92.7-FM, which is known as the Blast.
Baty, who was the first general manager of the Wichita Sports Forum before leaving to work at his alma mater, the University of Kansas, says this is “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” since there’s a limited number of radio stations.
Tommy Castor, who has been in Wichita radio for 15 years, is AMP’s COO.
“There’s an opportunity for us to be local going up against some of the big guys,” Baty says.
Rocking M owners Monte and Doris Miller did not like competing against those larger companies.
“It just didn’t fit our niche,” Monte Miller says. “We just felt like it was a struggle for us to try to make that transition.”
He says they’ve been in broadcasting for more than 30 years and have competed in a bigger market in television, but smaller markets are their interest for radio.
“Honestly, most of our stations are in rural and smaller markets throughout Kansas.”
Doris Miller says they enjoy close relationships in smaller towns.
“I think Matt and Tommy have that kind of relationship in Wichita,” she says. “I just hope people support them.”
Baty says all of AMP’s investors are local, and the idea behind the company is “to bring radio back to the grassroots level.”
He looks back to KFDI, 101.3-FM, in the days of Mike Oatman and Mike Lynch.
“Mike and Mike at KFDI did it the right way,” Baty says. “They were involved and engaged in the community more than anybody else.”
He says they became part of nonprofit teams, and Baty says AMP wants to do the same thing.
“We’re much more than just a broadcaster. We’re a partner.”
Baty says AMP won’t have a tremendous amount of overhead and will be able to do enhanced partnerships with advertisers, too, in a way that some of the bigger radio corporations may not feel they need to.
AMP will take over managing the stations on Monday.
“The biggest thing we’ve got to do is add a sales staff,” Baty says. “It’s investing in the market.”
Eventually, he says there may be an opportunity to hire back some radio talent that was forced off the air.
“That is going to be an important model for us,” Baty says.
He says AMP will consider all options for growing the stations.
“Everything’s on the table.”