An increased listening audience for Salt Lake radio stations, coupled with more of rural Utah's radio advertising dollars slipping away to the Wasatch Front, has been blamed for closure of Richfield's only FM radio station.
KKWZ-FM left the air waves Nov. 15 after nearly 11 years of broadcasting."We continue to lose audiences to KISN-FM, KLCY-FM and KSFI-FM, all Salt Lake City radio stations serving our area via translators that are owned and operated by our county governments," said Kent Colby, manager and principal owner of the Sevier Valley Broadcasting Co. "Our audience has been cut to the point where it is no longer economical to continue to operate this station."
Colby said that the loss of the listening audience, compounded by local advertisers spending their dollars with the Salt Lake stations, eroded the economic viability of the station.
AM station KSVC, also owned by the Sevier Valley Broadcasting Co., will remain on the air.
Colby said he has attempted for five years to find a mountain location where the station could be moved so that it could expand its coverage. "But we have run into constant objections from the U.S. Forest Service engineer, the Utah Highway Patrol engineer and our county translator engineer. He claimed that every developed mountaintop location on forest lands in the area has a site plan that specifically prohibits broadcasting stations but allows translators that rebroadcast signals from stations located in other areas."
Colby has been disgruntled at county commissioners for some time because of the translator installations, particularly because county funds have been used to help stations finance the translators. He doesn't blame the people who like variety in their listening repertoire, however.
"Sevier County and our neighboring counties have always looked to Salt Lake City for additional programming with virtually no consideration for expanding our local service," Colby said. He added that it is the company's "sincere desire" that the termination in local service will not be a permanent loss to the community.