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Radio station employees share perspective on Hutton Broadcasting purchase

Industry experts say Santa Fe-based company’s regional knowledge could benefit local market
Dustin Nolen, Jessi Kay and Tom McCullough of American General Media's Durango office. Nine Four Corners radio stations were sold to Hutton Broadcasting company on Tuesday including KPTE The Point. Radio station employees say the stations are likely not to have drastic changes to their programming. (Courtesy photo)

News about the sale of nine Four Corners radio stations to Hutton Broadcasting took some in the industry by surprise earlier this week.

However, American General Media employees who work for the local stations and will now become a part of Hutton are feeling positive about the change.

It was announced Tuesday that Hutton would be taking over these local stations:

  • Farmington: KISZ KISS Country, KENN News Talk, KRWN Rock and KPRT Pirate Radio.
  • Durango: KKDG Contemporary Hit Radio, KDGO Durango News/Talk and KPTE The Point.
  • Cortez: KRTZ Adult Contemporary and KVFC News and Talk

Account executive and on-air personality for American General Media Jessica Benson said she looks forward to working with the Santa Fe-based company.

“While the sale of our radio cluster in the Four Corners is relatively fresh news to all of us, we are excited about the possibilities that come with the purchase of our 9-station cluster, to Hutton Broadcasting,” she said in an email to The Durango Herald.

Details of the purchase were not disclosed in a news release from Hutton announcing the sale.

Benson said people had been speculating that the stations were being consumed by a large corporate conglomerate.

“That actually couldn't be further from the truth,” she said. “Hutton Broadcasting is a small radio group out of Santa Fe, N.M. with a similar focus on community and hyper-local marketing, that we have worked years to cultivate at our stations.”

She added that Hutton offers a wide variety of advertising services including: digital display advertising; print and online advertising; and video marketing; and of course advertising on the company’s flagship stations.

Benson said she doesn’t have any reason to believe there will be significant changes to the station under the new ownership, but it is early in the transition.

“From what I have seen with their existing stations, they value local programming, and if they bring that mindset to the Four Corners stations, I don't foresee big changes to our content,” Benson said.

Kelly Turner, operations manager for the nine-station radio cluster, said having the company based out of Santa Fe will help the stations appeal more to local audiences.

Turner has been working on the nine-station radio block for over 30 years and has experienced ownership changes four times.

“I'm pretty optimistic about it, actually,” Turner said. “We're going from being managed by a company based in central California to a company based in Santa Fe.”

In the past, he has experienced major changes to radio content and programming under new companies, but he is confident the radio cluster’s programming is where it needs to be.

“I don't think really most people saw it coming at the ground level. But at the same time, we in the radio industry say for the right price, any property is for sale,” he said.

Turner said he has confidence in Scott Hutton, who owns the broadcasting company. According to Turner, Hutton had previously worked with American General Media prior to owning his own broadcasting company.

“He just seems like a really honorable sort of guy who takes care of people,” Turner said.

Hutton Broadcasting took interest in the market because of Scott Hutton’s connections to the nine-station radio cluster and because the area is a tourist attraction, said Cheryl Fallstead, director of marketing for Hutton Broadcasting.

“He has some experience working with some of the people here,” Fallstead said.

The company started in 2007 with six flagship radio stations in Santa Fe. Since, it has evolved into video production, digital marketing and print with services in Santa Fe, Los Alamos, Las Cruces and Ruidoso, with Albuquerque coming soon.

The stations will officially become a part of Hutton Broadcasting upon FCC approval.

Employees of the nine-station radio cluster will meet with the new ownership Wednesday to learn more about the transition plans, Turner said.


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