Carrie Rengers

Rocking M Media’s six Wichita-area radio stations are off the air, but why?

The deal for Wichita’s new Allied Media Partners to acquire Salina-based Rocking M Media’s six Wichita-area radio stations has still not closed, and now the stations are all off the air.

What happened depends on which side is explaining it.

What isn’t in contention is that landlord Envision posted a note and locked the door to the stations at its downtown headquarters at 610 N. Main St.

“This is the craziest thing I ever saw,” Rocking M co-manager and co-owner Monte Miller says of the situation.

While the purchase was pending, Allied had an operating agreement with Rocking M to run the stations.

Miller says the agreement ended without Allied coming up with $6.2 million to buy the stations.

“That couldn’t be further from the truth,” says Allied CEO Matt Baty.

He says Rocking M won’t clear the liens on its assets in order to close the deal.

“This is not how you do a business transaction,” Baty says.

“I’m not buying someone else’s debt. I’m not buying someone else’s problems.”

No one with Envision returned calls for comment. The nonprofit is involved because of its previous ownership of KKGQ, 92.3-FM, and its status as the licensee.

In March, Have You Heard? reported that Rocking M planned to sell that station, which is known as Kansas Country, to Allied along with Wichita stations KIBB, 97.1-FM, which is known as Bob; KVWF, 100.5-FM, which is known as Flight; and KWME, 92.7-FM, which is known as the Blast.

Also included in the deal was to be Wellington’s KLEY, 100.3-FM and 1130-AM, which is known as the Wave; and Winfield’s KKLE, 1550-AM, a news and talk station.

Miller says when he heard that Envision locked the doors, he then took the stations off the air.

“We are very, very serious about how we take care of our FCC licenses,” he says. “We went down one transmitter at a time. Click, click.”

Miller says Envision locked out the stations because their leases expired.

“We were not in a position with Allied being in there to go in and renegotiate the lease,” he says.

Baty says the lock-out happened because Rocking M defaulted on payments to Envision.

Though the two companies disagree on just about everything related to what happened and what’s holding up the deal, both say they still want the sale to happen.

“I believe Wichita needs a local radio partnership, and we were hungry to provide that opportunity,” Baty says.

He hired longtime Wichita radio personality Cathy Carrier, who was supposed to start work Monday before the stations went off.

Baty says he’d also hired former B98 morning hosts Adam LukasCox and Careth Beard, who were supposed to start on Bob-FM on Oct. 1.

The two were fired from KRBB, 97.9-FM, in April.

“We’d still like to sell the stations to AMP,” Miller says.

He’d still like to sell the stations period.

“Of course, now the purchase of assets agreement has expired, and we are actively out selling the stations,” Miller says.

Rocking M owns 24 other stations across Kansas as well as the Kansas Farm & Ranch Radio network.

Miller says his family is used to its stations not having much competition in the smaller markets they’re in. In Wichita, there’s not only a lot of competition, there are not as many ad dollars these days, he says.

“It’s way down from what it was a few years ago.”

Baty says his group has enough money to buy the six stations and then run them.

“If we can get through these hiccups, we would love to get this thing to close.”