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Thursday, October 30, 2014         

THE BUZZ


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You, too, could own a trio of Big Island radio stations

By Erika Engle

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Three now-silent Hawaii County radio stations are up for auction due to the bankruptcy case of Idaho-based parent company Parrott Broadcasting L.P.

KIPA-AM 1060 and KHBC-FM 92.7 in Hilo and KHWI-FM 92.1 in Holualoa (Kona side) have been off the air, or "dark," since October, said media broker Greg Merrill, director of Media Services Group Inc. The U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Idaho has given the brokerage the task of facilitating the auction and accepting bids from interested parties.

Parrott filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization Jan. 7 of last year citing assets of $789,323 and debts of $1,054,407, a case the court converted to Chapter 7 liquidation in February, hence the auction.

The stations, studios and transmitter sites are still in place. "It's just a matter of flipping on the switches," Merrill said. Programming of some sort might be good as well, but none is included since staffing that provided local shows and any other agreements for programming from other sources are long gone. Experienced broadcasters among potential bidders would likely have some format ideas for their potential new signals, Merrill noted.

"The (bankruptcy) trustee and the court will look at all offers, what is going to generate the most money, and so there is no minimum bid," Merrill said, though bids in the $500,000-plus range are expected.

The successful bidder or bidders must be approved through not just the bankruptcy process, but also by the Federal Communications Commission, which oversees licensing of the public airwaves.

So far 15 entities and individuals have expressed interest by asking for additional, detailed information about one or more of the stations. "I would say 50 percent are from Hawaii, and 50 percent are from the mainland," Merrill said. Not all bidders are interested in all three stations. Bids are due June 1, and Merrill expects the successful bidder(s) will be notified within a week to 10 days.

Jingle with Jake contest

Proving true to the fun-potential of its marketing deal with celebrity pitchman Jake Shimabukuro, Farmers Insurance Hawaii is about to launch a jingle contest. Entrants will be asked to write lyrics to the Shimabukuro-penned "Drive Safe" song as part of a public service campaign. Lyrics should encourage safe driving and pedestrian safety.

"We are hoping to provide a unique, fun and memorable event that fosters awareness and encourages everyone in Hawaii to take an active part in watching out for pedestrians and obeying traffic laws," said Michele Saito, president.

Beginning today, entrants will be able to get sheet music and an audio file of "Drive Safe" from the Farmers Insurance Hawaii website or its Facebook page, where official rules require entrants to be Hawaii residents.

Entries will be posted online for public voting through June 7, and five finalists will be invited to perform for judges and a live audience at the Road Runner Music Hall in Dole Cannery on June 15 — after which judges, including Shimabukuro, Saito and Hawaii News Now personality Taizo Braden, will select the overall winner. The grand prize includes a 30-minute jam session with Shimabukuro and a $500 Apple gift card, not to mention public use of the lyrical wordsmithing.

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Erika Engle is a reporter with the Star-Advertiser. Reach her by email at erika@staradvertiser.com.






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