A Leaner Emmis Sees Its Shares Skyrocket


The last seven trading sessions on Nasdaq have certainly been interesting ones for Emmis Communications.

On June 7, Emmis shares increased from a close of $3.52 one day before.

Then, on Monday, June 10, the ever-shrinking Indianapolis-based media company confirmed that it is saying goodbye to the capital of the Lone Star State.

That excited investors, and that enthusiasm hasn’t ebbed.

For $39.3 million, the Indianapolis-based company led by Jeff Smulyan is handing its 50.1% controlling interest in six Austin radio stations and two FM translators to its partner, Sinclair Telecable Inc.

Emmis and Sinclair have been partners since Emmis purchased its controlling interest in July 2003.

Since this news one week ago, Emmis stock has shot upward — and in Monday’s trading was up 11.2% to $4.65 as of 3:05pm Eastern.

Volume was 25,811 shares, compared to average volume of 10,217 shares.

While there is renewed excitement in Emmis, now that it is refocusing its operations on its Indianapolis holdings and its pricing and pricing analytics provider Digonex, the sharp uptick on Monday — in particular following 2:15pm Eastern — is curious.

Could investors be putting credence into rumors that the YES Network, which the New York Post said on June 6 is “moving toward” purchasing a radio station and developing a “YES Radio” brand, is eyeing WEPN-FM 98.7 in New York as an owned-and-operated flagship?

The Walt Disney Company has operated WEPN since April 2012 through a lucrative 12-year LMA.

But, Disney may not need the LMA — or, perhaps, its Class B 50kw WEPN-AM, the original home for WFAN and for many years Country WHN-AM in New York.

That’s because ESPN Deportes Radio is set for a September 8 sunset, with a selection of the Spanish-language sports network’s signature shows becoming podcast-delivered audio programs.

An ESPN Deportes representative told RBR+TVBR on June 11 that the shutdown of the network would result in “staff impact” and could not speak of individual talent. The representative added that WEPN will swap ESPN Deportes Radio programming for English-language sports programming, including live play-by-play.

But, what sort of programming will go on WEPN-AM?

With speculation running rampant that the YES Network and New York Yankees want to purchase a station, rumors are flying.

As of Monday afternoon, that was great news for Emmis shareholders, with EMMS back to where it was trading in early October 2018.