But, in doing so, it doubled-down on its core business: radio.
In a deal that sees it using roughly one-third of the proceeds from its TV industry exit, Saga has agreed to acquire the seven FM stations, one AM and four translators owned by Apex Media Corporation for $23 million.
As Saga recommits to radio, this deal marks the end of AM/FM ownership for Apex.
Specifically, Saga will pick up Apex’s Charleston, S.C., cluster, which is comprised of WCKN-FM 92.5, WMXZ-FM 95.9, WAVF-FM 101.7 “Chuck FM,” WXST-FM “Star 99.7,” WSPO-AM 1390, and translators W261DG (used for WSPO as gospel-formatted “Heaven”) and W257BQ “99.3 The Box.”
The agreement negates a previously announced deal that saw W261DG, at 100.1 MHz, and WSPO-AM in Charleston, S.C., transferred to Chatter Media Inc. for $375,000. Fort Lauderdale-based Chatter Media is led by John Cardillo, a conservative Talk host who has filled in for the syndicated Glenn Beck and is a former New York Police Department patrolman.
Down in Hilton Head and the Low Country of South Carolina, which includes Beaufort, Saga is obtaining WVSC-FM 103.1, WLHH-FM 104.9 “The Surf” and WALI-FM 93.7, licensed to Walterboro, S.C. Apex acquired WALI from Premiere Properties in October 2016 for $325,000.
Also in the Low Country are translators W256CB and W293BZ.
Commenting on the acquisitions, Saga President/CEO Ed Christian said, “The Charleston stations are heritage radio stations that are very tightly focused on serving their local communities. The Hilton Head/Beaufort stations serve a regional market that will give us very strong development opportunities. Southern Living Magazine named Beaufort the South’s Best Small Town. We look forward to working with the existing staff to continue to serve these growing communities with great radio stations.”
Christian added that Saga intends to continue building its business in radio “by continuing to identify and acquire middle-market stations” — making it a buyer with a decent amount of sale proceeds from its TV exit and publicly traded stock that’s been trading above $50 a share since late March.
Saga expects to close on the Apex deal in September 2017.
The Apex sales in South Carolina follow the June 2016 divestment of its four Destin-Fort Walton Beach, Fla., stations to Community Broadcasters LLC, led by Bruce Mittman and Jim Leven. Community acquired the properties for $5.9 million.
Apex also owned station in Tuscaloosa, Ala., and in 2005 sold them to the former Citadel Communications. They are now a part of the Cumulus Media cluster in this market.