By Vanesa Brashier, firstname.lastname@example.org
Liberty’s hometown radio station, KSHN 99.9 FM, is history. As of midnight Monday, the station that “mixes music with things that matter” will no longer be on the airwaves. The station has been purchased by Humble-based KSBJ.
KSHN’s owner Bill Buchanan made the surprise announcement during his Partyline program Friday morning. Stunned listeners took to the station’s Facebook page to share their grief.
“This hurts and almost makes me sick. I don’t know how else to express it,” said Mary Anne Campbell, director of the Liberty-Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce. “This station has been a more than huge part of this community for so very long and has served us well. I know change has to come, but I am selfish. I love each and every one of the staff and wish the best for them. We will survive, I guess.”
Buchanan said the decision to sell the radio station was not taken lightly.
“I’m 78 years old. I am feeling worn out. Before now, I never got up in the morning and didn’t want to go to work, but I was starting to feel that way,” he said in a phone interview Friday morning.
Buchanan explained that KSBJ representatives approached him in early May with a low-ball offer to acquire the station. He rejected the bid and came back with an outrageously high bid, which KSBJ rejected.
“They made another offer and I told them I wasn’t interested,” Buchanan said.
On May 14, the station lost an integral member of the KSHN staff with 24 years of experience, Eric Latz, who died after a brief illness. The loss of Latz made Buchanan reconsider the offer as Latz handled a variety of tasks at the station, from reporting on city council meetings to doing on-air shows.
“I got to thinking that it would take five years to find someone to train to do what Eric did,” Buchanan said. “So I called KSBJ and we started talking again.”
Within hours, an agreement was reached. The parties have inked their names to the deal, effectively bringing to an end the FM radio station that has kept Liberty County citizens informed of local matters since 1977.
After years of operating radio stations in Ohio and Kentucky, Buchanan, who was reared in Richmond, Ky., moved to Liberty County, Texas, in 1977, to operate KPXE, the AM radio station that was the precursor for the FM-based station KSHN, which first aired on Aug. 29, 1991.
Through the years, Buchanan has generously given airtime to local causes and groups, allowing them to hold on-air fundraising auctions and to promote events. He regularly has invited city leaders to come on his Partyline show to discuss issues that are important to their cities and citizens. To date, Buchanan estimates that he has hosted in excess of 13,000 Partyline programs.
A stalwart supporter of local schools, Buchanan came up with a groundbreaking way to highlight both Dayton and Liberty football games simultaneously through split-channel radio signals.
In 2011, Buchanan was admitted into the Texas Radio Hall of Fame.
Because of FCC regulations, the sale of the station will not be final for several weeks, but Buchanan expects there will be no hiccups in the ownership exchange. In the meantime, KSHN will be in a local management agreement with KSBJ.
“You surrender to the buying party on a temporary agreement until the license acquisition is complete,” Buchanan explained on-air Friday. “KSHN will cease on the airwaves but will continue online for now. It’s important to mention that.”
KSHN’s studio at 2900 Sam Houston Ave. is not part of the purchase, Buchanan added, as KSBJ simply wanted the station’s radio signal to boost its current programming to listeners in the Beaumont area.
Tiffany York will remain with www.KSHNfm.com. However, the four remaining employees must seek other employment.
As for Buchanan, he plans to help York during the transition.
“I really would like to rest a bit but I don’t want to go off and die in retirement,” he said with a chuckle.