Marlin, which Tanger said will pay about $15 million for WFLN, also owns classical-music radio stations in Detroit and Miami. Tanger expects to complete the sale by January.
The radio station is being sold by the family of the late Lawrence M. C. Smith, who founded it in 1949, and the family of Raymond S. Green, who has been with the station since it went on the air.
Green, 72, bought out the shares of some of WFLN's original investors early in the station's history, said Green's son, WFLN general manager Raymond F. Green, yesterday.
The sale price is in line with the station's estimated market value of $12 million to $15 million, said Jonathan A. Intrater, a vice president of Broadcast Investment Analysts Inc., a consulting firm.
Intrater said he would expect the station to have revenues of $3 million to $3.5 million next year.
Tanger - who says his classical-music tastes are "mainstream" and tend toward Bach, Verdi, Mozart and some Beethoven - said his company approached Green about the deal.
In the spring 1987 ratings period, WFLN-FM held a relatively small 1.8 percent share of listeners 12 and older from 6 a.m. to midnight, Monday through Sunday, according to Arbitron Ratings Co.
However, like advertiser-supported classical-music stations elsewhere, WFLN-FM attracts advertisers based on the typically high incomes and upscale lifestyles of its listeners rather than on the size of its audience, Tanger said.
Southeast Bank, an advertiser on Marlin's WTMI-FM in Miami, once wrote Tanger to say that a listener sent a check for more than $100,000 for a certificate of deposit to the bank's president. The listener said he heard the bank advertise on the station and wanted to show his loyalty to the station, Tanger said.
Yet not all listeners are wealthy or upscale, he said, adding that "they drive Chevrolets along with Mercedes."