Who will be the true ‘Star’ of the radio? | TheUnion.com

Who will be the true ‘Star’ of the radio?

Local owners of Nevada County’s only commercial FM station are asking a Yuba City-area station to refrain from referring to their station as “Star 103.9.”

That’s because Nevada County Broadcasters, the parent company of KNCO-FM 94.1, uses the term “Star” to market its station to listeners and advertisers.

Bob Breck, the CEO and general manager of Nevada County Broadcasters, which owns both KNCO-FM and KNCO-AM, said he has sent a cease-and-desist letter to KXCL-FM 103.9 asking the station to stop using the term “Star 103.9” in their broadcast and marketing efforts.

Dallas-based First Broadcasting, which purchased KXCL-FM last month, launched the station in late January, playing a heavy mix of ’80s music.

The station, like KNCO-FM, broadcasts into the Yuba-Sutter market, reaching as far south as Sacramento. As such, the two stations compete for Arbitron ratings, which are used as a barometer to set advertising rates for radio stations.

Using “Star” to market two stations in essentially the same market could end up hurting both stations.

Breck said he verbally asked KXCL Jan. 26 to stop using the “Star 103.9” tagline, and he followed up with a certified cease-and-desist letter four days later.

“So far, there’s been no response, and they continue to use the name,” Breck said. KNCO-FM bills itself as a station that plays “the best of the ’80s, ’90s, and today.”

If KXCL fails to follow the orders of the cease-and-desist letter, Breck said he could sue First Broadcasting and ask for an injunction, preventing the Yuba City-licensed station from marketing itself in the same manner as 94.1.

Chris McMurray, vice president of operations for First Broadcasting, and Mark Beranek, general manager for KXCL and a Sacramento sister station, KZSA-FM, did not return calls seeking comment late Thursday.

The flap over KNCO-FM’s station identifier is the latest in a flurry of activities surrounding Nevada County Broadcasters’ activities in the past year.

The local company is in negotiations to purchase Yuba City-based KUBA 1600 AM, which would boost Nevada County Broadcasters’ reach into the Yuba-Sutter news market.

The dispute over the use of marketing “Star 94.1” has no bearing on the purchase of the AM station, Breck said.

In May, KNCO-FM changed frequencies from 94.3 FM to 94.1 FM, which at times interfered with the frequency broadcast by KPFA-FM, a San Francisco nonprofit located at 94.1 on the FM dial.

In October 2002, First Broadcasting agreed to purchase KNCO-FM from Nevada County Broadcasters for nearly $3 million. At the time, Breck said signal interference from an Amador County station located at the 94.3 frequency necessitated the purchase.

Nevada County Broadcasters later brokered a deal with First Broadcasting to move to a new frequency in order to retain local ownership of the station.

Ironically, when Breck approached First Broadcasting about the use of the “Star 103.9” identifier, he said First Broadcasting had no knowledge that Nevada County Broadcasters was using the “Star 94.1” term – despite the fact First Broadcasting was in negotiations to buy the Nevada County FM station last year.

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