Code Switch
11:04 am
Mon April 22, 2013

Can You Say "KDAY" In Mandarin?

Originally published on Mon April 22, 2013 1:41 pm

I'm going to out myself. I listen to the "oldies" station on my daily commute to and from NPR West in my banged-up ride, tailpipe barely hanging on. The station's tag-line is "back in the day hits," and my favorite feature is inappropriate relationship advice from a Mexican drag queen who goes by Kay Sedia (as in, quesadilla). The station's call letters are KDAY and it cuts in and out during my commute because its FM signal is weak. So I switch from listening intently to important news and information on my local NPR affiliate to rapping wildly to Snoop Dogg's hits from the 90s, "AINT NOTHIN' BUT A G THANG BABY! TWO LOC'D OUT G'S SO WE CRAZY!" The station plays Warren G, Dre, Tupac and just about anything with a Nate Dogg hook.

Yes, this is the oldies station of my generation. For now.

The company that owns KDAY, Magic Broadcasting, this month agreed to sell the station to RBC Communications for $19.5 million. RBC is 80 percent owned by Anthony Yuen — a Chinese-American investor — and the rest by Phoenix Satellite Television, a company based in the British Virgin Islands that operates six TV channels in China.

Right now there's a 25 percent cap on foreign ownership of radio and television stations (that might explain RBC's 80/20 split). Just last week, the National Association of Media Brokers — a business group that specializes in the sale of radio and TV stations — asked the Federal Communications Commission to ease its rules on foreign ownership. The group says American investors don't have access to enough capital to buy stations.

KDAY ranks 28th in LA's very competitive media market, so it's not like it's raking in the advertising revenue. Magic Broadcasting tried to sell the station for $35 million a couple of years ago, but the transfer never happened.

The National Association of Broadcasters, another industry group, also wants foreign companies to get in on the radio and television game. They say it helps broadcasters that serve ethnic minorities acquire sources of funding from their home countries especially in markets like Los Angeles, where KDAY is based, with large Mexican, Korean and Chinese populations.

Radio industry experts, like Lance Venta (I spoke with him over the phone about the sale) say if the FCC approves the deal, KDAY will, most likely, switch from Snoop D O Double G to Chinese-language programming and he said that could happen as early as this summer.

Downside: no more solo sing-alongs to "Summertime In the LBC" on the way to work.

Upside: Mandarin-language immersion?

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.