For as long as I’ve been alive Los Angeles’ KPWR — aka, Power 106 — was a, if not the, staple for hip hop music on the radio in Southern California. From the Baka Boyz (I actually, distinctly, remember one of them attempt to break the world record for the longest ever DJ set on air, only to fall short due to a severe lack of sleep) to Big Boy moving from his evening slot to the more popular morning show, Power 106 is as much a part of Los Angeles as its sister station Hot 97 is a part of New York City.
Obviously, things have changed rather drastically over the last several years, as is the norm. The Baka Boyz are long gone, KPWR kept shuffling its programming around, and soon the station began to focus on non-hip hop music like EDM and dance music. A major sign of the times was when Big Boy, former bodyguard for the Pharcyde-turned-said beloved morning show host, abruptly left the station in 2015 to join Emmis rival iHeartMedia’s KRRL, Real 92.3. Things haven’t really been the same since, and now Emmis Communications has sold Power 106, effectively leaving the country’s second-largest radio market.
Billboard reports that Emmis has sold KPWR — a station it has owned since 1984 — to an affiliate of The Meruelo Group for $82.75 million. The Meruelo Group — which also owns both Los Angeles television station KWHY-22 and radio station KDAY-FM — will pair Power 106, which focuses on today’s mainstream songs, with KDAY, a long-running, classic hip hop station.
Alex Meruelo, chairman and CEO of The Meruelo Group, said via statement, “The acquisition of Power 106 is a game changer for our group and our media division. As a fan and someone who has had a business relationship with this station for more than 30 years, I understand the importance of Power 106 to this community. We are committed to bringing the resources, talent and passion necessary to make this legendary brand the No. 1 radio station in Los Angeles.”
“Power 106 has been part of the Emmis family for more than 32 years, so this day is bittersweet, but I am confident that the station and our team are in good hands,” replied Jeff Smulyan, chairman and CEO of Emmis Communications. “The Meruelo Group will be great owners of this historic brand, and take it to even greater heights.”
While I can’t say that this comes as a complete shocker (Power 106 has been changing a lot over the last several years), the news is a bit surprising still, and I have some questions. What’s going to happen to the personalities on Power? Will the format change once again? Most importantly, will Power 106 even be there in the next ten years?
Either way, it’s the end of an era and, perhaps, the start of a new one. But to be honest, I don’t know how to feel about that.