Nonprofit Christian broadcast company Educational Media Foundation is set to acquire the 95.3 FM signal for San Jose, Calif., country music radio station KRTY from Empire Broadcasting for $3.138 million. EMF owns Contemporary Christian networks K-LOVE and Worship AIR1.
KRTY is San Jose’s only country station and has programmed country music since 1989. Bob Kieve acquired the station in 1993 and the station has remained one of the few independently owned FM stations operating in a market of its size. Kieve died in 2020 at age 98. Thus, the station has had more leeway in programming, with KRTY vp/general manager Nate Deaton becoming an outspoken voice within the country format. During his tenure at KRTY, Deaton has won awards, including 2022’s market manager/GM honor at the CRS/Country Aircheck awards.
KRTY’s country programming will remain on the air through June 1. Though EMF purchased the frequency, KRTY retains the station’s intellectual property, including its call letters, branding, website and concert events, according to The Mercury News.
“It’s entirely possible, perhaps probable, that somebody else — perhaps an underperforming station — picks up the country format in the Bay Area and builds upon the success we’ve had,” Deaton told The Mercury News. He added that after June 1, “We will still do something as KRTY in the digital space. So we’re not saying goodbye; we’re saying, ‘What’s next?’”
Deaton also said via a separate statement, “This is the end of a magical era. Bob would be sorry to see the end of country radio in San Jose, but we know he would be proud to see how the employees at the station have honored his legacy since they lost Bob two years ago. We extend our congratulations and compliments to the entire team at EMF—they have been extraordinarily helpful and respectful during the entire transaction. We wish them the very best.”
Joe Miller, vp of signal development at EMF, added, “We have appreciated working with Nate and his team on this transaction and applaud the service KRTY (as well as KARA/KLIV previously) under the Kieve ownership has brought to the Bay Area over the years. They have been a credit to radio industry.”
News of San Jose losing its country signal follows last October’s news of New York City losing its only metropolitan country station, Audacy’s WNSH-FM 94.7, which flipped from a country format to classic hip-hop.