Hog Radio Inc. of De Queen in southwest Arkansas has filed the necessary paperwork to purchase a 50,000-watt radio station licensed in Bella Vista.
According to a filing with the Federal Communications Commission, Hendren Communications Inc. of Gravette, owned by Gayla Hendren-McKenzie, has agreed to sell FM radio station KBVA-106.5 “The Variety” for $1.15 million.
The sale is subject to the approval of the FCC, which is expected in a couple of months.
Hog Radio is a subsidiary of Bunyard Media Group, owned by De Queen businessman Jay Bunyard. BMG includes approximately 20 stations across Arkansas, including the Hog Radio group of stations based in Springdale — ESPN 99.5-KAKS/KUOA 1290AM/ 95.3, KFMD-FM “Star 101.5,” and KCYT-FM “96.7 The Coyote”.
“KBVA will be the largest signal that we own in this market,” said Candace-Dixon Horne, general manager for Hog Radio in Springdale. “It’s a heritage station that has been in the market for a long time and we are glad to keep it locally owned.”
Horne said KBVA will operate from Hog Radio’s studios in Springdale. Hog Radio did not acquire the rights to KBVA’s format — a playlist personally created by McKenzie that includes approximately 5,500 songs from Andrea Bocelli to Randy Travis to Meghan Trainor — but Horne said the new owners plan to continue the current format that includes a variety of songs and artists from different decades. The target demographic is listeners age 50 and older, though younger listeners are starting to tune in, Horne said.
KBVA does not report to Nielsen for ratings purposes, but Horne said the station is “constently a top-five station” for overall audience. The signal reaches Northwest Arkansas, southwest Missouri and northeast Oklahoma.
McKenzie, the niece of Gov. Asa Hutchinson, built the station in 1991, just one year out of law school at the University of Arkansas. She said leaving the radio business is both exciting and bittersweet.
“The last couple of years I’ve realized 26 years is a long time to do something, and it’s time to see maybe what else is out there,” she said. “I’m really at peace with it. I’ve enjoyed it with all my heart.”
McKenzie said one of the positives of operating a small radio station was the family aspect. Her father is State Rep. Kim Hendren (R-Gravette), an Arkansas political figure for more than two decades, and he has also been the station’s weatherman since it went on the air. Her mother, Marylea Hendren, is the station’s sales manager.
“Mom and dad have been with me from the very beginning,” she said.
McKenzie didn’t disclose any of the station’s advertising or revenue figures, but did say most advertisers have been with KBVA since it launched in 1991.
“When I first started a lot of people said it would be tough to make it with this demographic and this format,” she said. “But I wanted to play music I believed in and didn’t mind my kids listening to. Good music with good words. It’s been good to me. Listeners have been good about patronizing our advertisers. There might be formats that make more money, but this one has been good to me. It’s been a positive experience.”
McKenzie said the station will start airing public announcements related to the sale once the FCC sets a date to finalize the deal. Her goal is to be “up front” with listeners about the transition, and take the last two months to reminisce about the station’s history.