Smooth Operator


KMUR - Neil Ross resize
Neil Ross –  KMOR

Most of the guilty in this story are no longer “hitting the ramp”, so it’s OK to tell the story.

A car dealer we knew as OJ owned a small AM station in Salt Lake in the early ‘70s – KMOR.  The station was a 1KW Class 4 (1230) signal that had struggled to find a format that worked.  It would be assumed OJ tired of the monthly payroll cash calls.

So when a manager of a famous boxer, a man as silky and smooth an operator as you’ve ever seen, came calling, OJ jumped to sell the station.  The buyer played the race card better than Bill Clinton. He offered OJ an absurdly high price – I think more than a $1M for a station worth half that, but he did it on terms.

OJ, smelling the cash as only car dealers can, was now totally taken in by this smooth operator and was only too happy to sell the station to this smooth talker.   However, OJ  failed to secure the stock.  He mistakenly assumed his collateral was the license. But as we know the license is unencumberible – it can’t be security for a transaction or sale – a fact OJ seems to have not understood.

The new buyer came in – sucked as much cash out of the station as he could over the next year and walked away when there wasn’t any cash left.  For myself and a partner it was perfect.  We bought the stock controlling the license for $15,000, built new studios in an old pharmacy (even used the fountain counter as a control room desk and stools for guest seats) and relaunched.

Of course OJ sued everyone, but both the FCC and the Federal Courts upheld the premise that the license can’t be secured for a debt and we retained ownership of the station.  In hindsight it was a good deal that cost a lot of time, legal money and frustration AND we still had to rebuild the station.

A few years later, we sold the station and in hindsight, we got out just in time and broke about even.  Lots of fun…lots of learning.


2 Responses

  1. The original call letters were KMUR. The station was located inside a car dealership in Murray, Utah owned by Bri Wilkinson. They ran top 40 but never did too well due to the low nighttime power. In the ‘60’s they had a very popular jock by the name of Ray Graham who had quite a following. He did a segment called the Graham Cracker capers.

  2. You are SO right Brent. Not sure where the OJ name came from but the dealership was a Chrysler/Plymouth outlet on State Street. I’ve heard of Ray Graham but never met him. Any idea where he is today…?

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