On Sept. 24, RBR+TVBR exclusively reported that, a day earlier, the entity that agreed to purchase a group of radio stations from Monte and Doris Miller’s Rocking M Media suddenly lost access to four FMs, an AM with an FM translator, and an AM talker serving the Wichita market.
Monte Miller blamed the buyer, citing his concerns for its finances. The buyer, Allied Media Partners (AMP), fired back through its CEO, placing the blame on Miller and fiscal troubles it had not dealt with.
Miller said the sale was off; AMP disagreed. Now, AMP has confirmed that a resolution with Rocking M could not be reached. All staff have been dismissed, and AMP has shuttered its operations.
The end for AMP means that all office and on-air staff — including GM Martha Triana — are now seeking employment.
For listeners, there’s been nothing but silence since Sept. 23 on the following stations:
- KIBB-FM in Haven, Ks., “BOB FM 97.1”
- KVWF-FM in Augusta, Ks., Adult Alternative “Flight 100.5”
- KKGQ-FM in Newton, Ks., Country “KS92.5”
- KWME-FM in Wellington, Ks., Classic Hip-Hop “92.7 The Blast”
- KLEY-AM and FM translator K262CQ at 100.3 MHz in Wellington, AC “The Wave”
- KKLE-AM and translator K230CE in Winfield, Ks., airing a Talk format
On Monday (9/30), a statement from AMP CEO Matt Baty was quietly posted to his company’s official Facebook page.
“It is with a heavy heart that I have informed Allied Media Partners’ staff that it is at an impasse with Rocking M Media,” Baty said. “As a result, AMP will be closing its operations and terminating its staff effective immediately.”
This includes Triana — a fixture in the sales teams of several radio station groups in Wichita who had served as Business Manager of the stations under Rocking M. Also impacted: KVWF morning host Greg Gann and the team tied to Lukas and Careth in the Morning, who were slated to join BOB after being dismissed from a crosstown iHeart-owned station in April.
The total number of AMP employees impacted by the dissolution of the station acquisition and its pre-closing LMA agreement numbers 20. All Facebook pages for the AMP-managed stations in Wichita are no longer active; a Twitter feed for Flight 100.5 had not been updated in several weeks. Baty tells RBR+TVBR all social media domains are under Rocking M’s control.
In the letter, Baty explained how AMP had gained control of the stations, which Rocking M on April 4 agreed to sell for a total price of exactly $6,188,645. “Since April 1, AMP has been operating the stations under a Local Marketing Agreement with the desire and intent to purchase Rocking M Media’s radio stations and assets,” he said. “In just three months the FCC approved the transfer of the licenses. The only item standing in AMPs’ way was to close on the Purchase and Sale Agreement.”
That was problematic, but the reasons for the inability to close greatly differ, depending on whether the buyer or seller is speaking. Monte Miller told RBR+TVBR that while Allied was assured and certified that they had the cash to complete the transaction, “It was apparent that they don’t, and won’t.”
Not so, says Baty.
“AMP was repeatedly told that Rocking M Media was having problems obtaining lien releases from its creditors,” he said in the letter posted Monday to Facebook. “After countless delays, Rocking M Media was unable to provide documentation reflecting its ability to transfer its assets free and clear of liens.”
AMP continued to pursue closing on its planned acquisition of the stations, which they had been locked out of since Sept. 23, forcing them to go dark.
Speaking to RBR+TVBR, Miller said the lockout was a move designed to allow his company to maintain control of the stations. He confirmed that the landlord locked Rocking M out of the control room.
But, Baty counters that Miller didn’t fully explain why the landlord, Envision, had locked out all AMP staff.
“It appears this stemmed from a dispute between Rocking M Media and its landlord,” Baty says.
As such, it was Rocking M’s inability to settle the matter with Envision that effectively made the stations go dark. “In AMPs’ opinion, that decision placed the value of the stations at risk and thus changed the dynamics of the transaction,” Baty says.
Furthermore, a source close to the matter tells RBR+TVBR that the lease with Envision goes beyond studio space, and that it owned the studio equipment.
If true, this could place the asset purchase agreement filed May 30 with the FCC into question. Among the “Tangible Personal Property” shown as owned by Rocking M is a WideOrbit systems server; Moseley SL9003Q studio; Audio Science BOB 1024 Break Out Box; Harris Intraplex T1 transmitter; Tascam CD-OIU; and Eventide BD600 Broadcast Delay system.
Meanwhile, the filing also confirms that a $300,000 earnest money deposit is being held in escrow by Security 1st Title in Wichita. Baty tells RBR+TVBR this will be released on joint agreement, from buyer and seller. That won’t be easy, and the funds are now in legal limbo, with litigation on access likely to transpire.
Despite the situation AMP finds itself in, Baty is still positive about radio and preaches much of the same gospel that Entercom head David Field does: It’s undervalued, and has exceptional reach, making it a strong ROI vehicle for a brand. Buying another station or two, or several, in the future is still in mind.
Today, he simply wants the Rocking M matter resolved, and the deal fully dissolved.