A Family-Owned Media Company Dives Back Into Radio


Nearly 20 years ago, two brothers came together to purchase the ABC affiliate serving the Twin Tiers of New York and Pennsylvania.

The deal included an AM/FM combo in the region. As company would grow, it did so with the addition of more TV properties, as those radio stations were shed just one year after obtaining them.

Now, this company is back in the radio business.

Lilly Broadcasting has agreed to purchase three radio stations and an FM translator from the Frank Iorio-led Radio Partners, LLC for an as-yet-undisclosed price.

An asset purchase agreement containing the transaction’s value is expected to be filed at the FCC early next week.

Lilly says it is looking for a “quick transaction,” happening within the next two months.

This would give Lilly the following stations, all in Warren, Pa.:

  • Class D News/Talk WNAE-AM 1310 and FM translator W244DY at 96.7 MHz
  • Class B Classic Hits WRRN-FM 92.3
  • Class A “Kinzua Country” WKNB-FM 104.3

The Warren radio properties create synergies with our current footprint in our Pennsylvania television DMA, comprised of Erie, Warren and Crawford counties,” said Lilly Broadcasting President Kevin Lilly. “Thewill allow us to better serve our viewers and now our radio listeners while in their homes, cars, and online. We look forward to providing the best content available for our listeners and will improve the news, weather and sports information on all platforms.”    

Warren is a 90 minute drive east of Lilly’s Erie, Pa., headquarters. While those radio stations do not reach Erie, their inclusion in the Erie DMA gives Lilly added firepower in a market where iHeartMedia is getting Connoisseur Media‘s six-station Erie cluster, in addition to nearby Class A WLTM-FM in Mina, N.Y.

Once the deal closes, iHeartMedia and Cumulus Media will dominate Erie’s radio dial. Over in Warren, the lone local AM will now be owned by Lilly. On the FM band, Lilly’s primary competitor in Warren will be Media One Radio Group and Laurel Media‘s Country WDDH-FM in Saint Mary’s, Pa.

Meanwhile, Lilly’s Erie holdings are comprised of WICU-12, home to the market’s NBC affiliate and MeTV, Start TV and ION programming on digital multicast channels. SJL Broadcasting, an affiliated licensee owned by father George Lilly, owns the market’s CBS affiliate, WSEE-35, which has The CW Network and Heroes & Icons on WSEE’s digital multicast channels. WSEE was acquired in 2002.

Lilly sold WENY-AM & FM in Elmira, N.Y., to White Broadcasting in 2000. The stations are presently owned and operated by Sound Communications.

Since then, it has developed unique ABC and The CW Network feeds to the U.S. Virgin Islands, and a unique WSEE feed to Puerto Rico. Also in the mix is WZMQ-19 in
Marquette, Mich., and ABC affiliate KITV-4 in Honolulu, serving all of Hawaii. Kevin and his brother, Brian Lilly, manage KITV for their father’s SJL Broadcast Management.

Brian and Kevin Lilly have been honored by the readers of RBR+TVBR. For more details, read the Spring 2019 NAB Show Edition of the Radio + Television Business Report.

Click here to download: RBR+TVBR SPRING 2019 MAGAZINE