LOGAN One company owns seven of the nine commercial radio stations in Cache Valley. The same company sells much of the advertising for one of the other stations, and the remaining station is a small AM operation in Preston, Idaho.
Depends on whom you ask.
Cache Valley Radio Group obviously dominates the valley's radio market, says Logan radio expert Friend Weller. But Weller says Kent Frandsen, Cache Valley Radio Group's owner, offers a wide variety of programming.
"Does Kent have a monopoly? I would say that he does," Weller says. "But is it a bad thing?"
Weller says Frandsen still must battle other media for advertising dollars and fight for listeners with stations from the Ogden and Salt Lake areas.
"He doesn't control every single radio signal that gets into this valley," says Weller, an engineer for Logan-based Utah Public Radio who teaches a class on radio at Utah State University.
Frandsen's son Eric rejects the suggestion that Cache Valley Radio Group has a monopoly. He says advertisers have plenty of alternatives: the Internet, newspapers, magazines, direct mail, traditional television, cable television and other radio stations.
"Our rates are not reflected on this assumption that we have a monopoly and if you're going to be on radio you have nowhere else to go," says Frandsen, an account executive for Cache Valley Radio Group. "That's furthest from the truth."
But Kurt Smith, manager of Logan-based Edwards Furniture, isn't so sure. Smith, who buys advertisements from Cache Valley Radio Group, says rates might be lower if there were more options.
"I think it would make radio more competitive," he says.
As for KACH in Preston, owner Alan White says his station fills a niche by concentrating on the Idaho end of Cache Valley. Although he'd like to have a bigger slice of the valley's advertising pie, he says he doesn't have the staff to go after it.
"If there is any competition, it's pretty amiable and friendly," White says.
Another competitor albeit somewhat indirectly is Utah Public Radio, which broadcasts on two frequencies in Cache Valley. As a National Public Radio affiliate, Utah Public Radio is a not-for-profit entity, but Frandsen says UPR competes not only for listeners but also for advertisers by soliciting businesses to help underwrite programs.
"They do (advertise), they just give it a different name," he says. "They still talk to businesses to get money."
The Federal Communications Commission used to strictly limit the number of radio stations one company could own in a market area, but in 1996 Congress approved a complicated formula that allows one company to own a handful of stations in one area.
Weller says virtually anyone willing to spend the time and money could launch a competing station in Cache Valley. The FCC also allows anyone to challenge a broadcasting license on the grounds a station is not serving the public interest, convenience and necessity.
"It's kind of hard to challenge a license, but if you've got the chutzpah, you could do it," Weller says. "There's a lot of hoops somebody would have to jump through."
One of the reasons the FCC had for strictly limiting the number of stations was to ensure various viewpoints were heard.
Frandsen says Cache Valley Radio Group isn't trying to impose a political viewpoint on listeners. He says the company's news reporting is unbiased, and market forces determine which commentators get airtime.
For example, he says advertisers buy spots on conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh's show on KVNU because he has a lot of listeners. If the demand weren't there, Limbaugh wouldn't be there either, he says.
"We're not on a crusade to get our own political philosophies out there. We let the market decide that," Frandsen says. "Ultimately, we're business people. We want to do what's going to help the bottom line."
Besides, he says modern media offer a wide variety of political commentary."There is competition out there," he says. "It may not be in the form of another group of competing stations, but there is also other media other opportunities for people to get their news, information, music."
Cache Valley-based radio stations
• KVNU, 610 AM
News, talk, sports
• KVFX, VFX 94.5, 98.3 and 104.7 FM
• KLZX 95.9 FM
• KGNT KOOL 103.9 FM
• QBLQ Q92 92.9 FM
• KKEX Kix 96 96.7 FM
• KLGN Memories 1390 1390 AM
Music of your life
• KYLZ 104.9 FM
Timeless favorites, local news and sports
• KUSU 91.5 FM (KUSR 98.5 FM) Utah Public Radio
News, commentary, musical variety