Page radio stations to go dark on December 31

KXAZ staff consists of (L-R) Mike Reilley, news director; owner Janet Brown; Becca Shepherd, production and morning show; and former Arizona Broadcast Association intern and current Coconino Community College student Devon Delmar. Not pictured: Missy Reilley, traffic and billing.

Owner Janet Brown seeks buyer to keep KXAZ and the Bandit on the air

After more than 30 years of broadcasting, KXAZ and the Bandit will go dark on Dec. 31, leaving northern Arizona and southern Utah without a Page-based radio station.

However, Lake Powell Communications owner Janet Brown, who is retiring at the end of this year, is actively searching for someone from the community to buy the radio stations and keep them operating.   

“My staff at the station has deep, deep talent, and they want to continue to work for the radio stations,” Brown said.  

“They’ve amassed years of talent and service to the community and know the community, and they want to continue to work here, but I am retiring. So, we need to find a new owner for the stations. I’m holding out hope that someone will step forward from the community to buy [Lake Powell Communications].” 

Lake Powell Communications encompasses KXAZ radio (93.3 FM and translator 100.1 FM), the Bandit radio (1340 AM and translator 98.3 FM), the Lake Powell USA Visitor Guide, the website and several information kiosks around town. 

Brown is retiring after a career in radio that dates back to the early 1980s, when she lived in the Denver, Colorado, foothills and her husband Dan worked for Motorola International.  

“[Dan] came home saying, ‘You know, I’m smarter than a lot of these broadcasters I’m selling to. I think I’d like to be broadcaster,’” Brown said. They bought an FM radio station in Gunnison, Colorado, in 1981. They learned a lot about the broadcast industry by running the station, but they weren’t big fans of Gunnison’s cold winters. 

An opportunity to move to a warmer climate arose in 1990 when Dan, then a member of the Arizona Broadcast Association board of directors, volunteered to travel to Page to see if there was any viability in the community for a radio station.   

At that time, KXAZ FM and KPGE AM were run as a simulcast station based in LeChee, but the owners had filed for bankruptcy.  

“We came down as a family to check out the radio station,” Brown said. “It was powered by diesel generation, but the station didn’t have any money to buy gas to put into the generator, so it was off the air half the time.”

The Browns asked around town and found that locals loved the radio station even though it was off the air much of the time. They returned to Colorado and reported to the bankruptcy bank that Page was indeed “a very viable community for a radio station.” A couple months later, the Browns agreed to buy the radio station, and they moved to Page in 1991. 

“What a wonderful place to raise our children,” Brown said of Page. “We brought two young girls with us. We have loved this area. The lake, when it goes up, when it goes down, we’ve loved every part of it. I just have a lot of gratitude for this area and the beauty. I’m still taken aback by the beauty of the area.”

Brown said that in the early 1990s, Lake Powell Resort was the only business in the area that was interested in marketing and reaching out to visitors. Now, 30 years later, Brown describes Lake Powell Communications as a “cash-flowing cow” that offers a “multimedia approach” for its clients. She added that she’s asking a “bankruptcy price” for the business.

“They are cash flowing,” she said. “It’s not just with the radio but with the kiosks, we have brochures and posters in the kiosks, the travel app, website and the Lake Powell Visitor Guide.”

Brown said the decision to retire and move to New Mexico came after her house in Page was ruined by flooding while she was out of town last summer. Another reason she cited was an unsigned letter she received from the City of Page telling her to vacate the land behind the police and fire station that she has leased for 30 years to house the AM radio tower. 

“They want to build homes there. What that does is it eliminates the country station, the Bandit, as well as the Page High School sports, all the football and basketball broadcasts. I was really taken aback by that,” Brown said, adding, “I’ll be turning 70 in April. I’m way past retirement time. I’m ready to retire.”

Even if no one buys the radio stations before they go dark at the end of the year, Brown has one year to sell her AM and FM broadcast licenses, which will allow the buyer to get the stations up and running again. 

However, she stressed that she would prefer someone to step forward soon so the current staff – Mike Reilley, Missy Reilley, Becca Shepherd and Devon Delmar – can continue working.

“As a broadcaster, your job is to inform, educate and entertain the community,” Brown said. “I think because of our isolation, people listen to the radio because they want to know the lake temperature or the weather or where to get a job. This team here is ready to continue on and do a good job for Page.” 

Brown also emphasized how thankful she was to the listeners of KXAZ and the Bandit over the years.

“I just want to continue to say over and over how grateful I am to our listeners, because without our listeners, it wouldn’t work. Nothing would work,” she said. “This is a community that loves their radio. And not just the community, but the Navajo Nation and all the communities surrounding Page.” 

Janet Brown can be contacted by email at [email protected].

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