Local

It’s the end of The End 107.9; format will move down the dial ahead of planned merger

A jury awarded $16.6 million to the family of Jennifer Strange, including husband William Strange, left, after Jennifer Strange’s death in 2007 as a result of her participation in radio station 107.9 The End’s “Hold Your Wee for a Wii” competition. Jennifer Strange’s mother, Nina Hulst, is at right; Hulst’s husband, Mark Hulst, is at center.
A jury awarded $16.6 million to the family of Jennifer Strange, including husband William Strange, left, after Jennifer Strange’s death in 2007 as a result of her participation in radio station 107.9 The End’s “Hold Your Wee for a Wii” competition. Jennifer Strange’s mother, Nina Hulst, is at right; Hulst’s husband, Mark Hulst, is at center. Sacramento Bee file

Pennsylvania-based radio broadcasting company Entercom, which announced Thursday its intention to merge with CBS Corp.’s CBS Radio, said Friday that its KDND-FM (107.9 The End) Sacramento station program will move to what is now KUDL-FM (Star 106.5) on Monday morning.

The transfer will create The End 106.5 and replace the current Star 106.5 format, Entercom said. Both stations have relied on a pop hits format with artists ranging from Maroon 5 to Rihanna.

The company said in a statement: “After careful consideration, Entercom determined it is in the company’s best interests to voluntarily turn in the KDND license to facilitate the timely FCC approvals for the planned combination with CBS Radio announced on Thursday.”

107.9 The End was embroiled in controversy after Jennifer Lea Strange, 28, died from water intoxication during a 2007 contest called “Hold Your Wee for a Wii.” Strange’s family won a $16.6 million award during a jury trial, and media watchdogs petitioned the Federal Communications Commission to deny the station a license renewal after the incident.

The FCC last year acknowledged that there were “serious questions as to whether Entercom operated Station KDND in the public interest” during its previous license term. The FCC referred the license renewal to an administrative law judge for review.

Lawyers for the radio broadcaster said Friday that Entercom on Wednesday will permanently discontinue KDND 107.9 and submit its license to the FCC for cancellation, according to a letter obtained by media watchdog Sue Wilson, a petitioner who asked the FCC to block the station’s license.

Entercom had no comment Friday on whether the FCC battle played a role in the decision to return KDND’s license to the FCC. Wilson called the termination of the station “a huge victory for the public interest” in a statement.

The combined Entercom/CBS company, which will keep the Entercom name pending regulatory approvals of the proposed merger, will own more than 240 radio stations in 23 of the nation’s top 25 markets. If the merger is approved, Entercom would become the nation’s second-largest radio station company behind iHeartMedia.

Entercom has said it expects to sell about 15 radio stations to meet federal government ownership limits in some markets, including Sacramento. However, Entercom said Friday it would not address potential station divestments in Sacramento, citing the prolonged regulatory process ahead. Entercom and CBS officials said they are hopeful the proposed merger will close in the second half of this year.

In Sacramento, Entercom operates KDND-FM (107.9 The End), KRXQ-FM (98 Rock), KSEG-FM (Eagle 96.9), KKDO-FM (Radio 94.7), KUDL-FM (Star 106.5) and KIFM-AM (ESPN 1320).

Mark Glover: 916-321-1184, @markhglover

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