It was certainly a big day for Entercom Communications, which effectively traded a Country station in the nation’s ninth-largest market for the top-rated player, a longtime AC founded in 1963 for $28,500.
But, it was also a historic Thursday for Beasley Broadcast Group: That Country station, in the words of CEO Caroline Beasley, is “coming home.” In this exclusive interview with RBR+TVBR, she shares why this deal is another major achievement for the radio industry pure-play operator.
In March 1984, Beasley owned WXTU-FM 92.5 in Philadelphia — a station it is reacquiring in a deal with Entercom for $38 million.
Some 34 years after WXTU adopted a Country format, against the advise of several industry consultants, the station remains strong. Caroline Beasley couldn’t be more thrilled to have the station back.
“With Beasley in Philadelphia you have a great cluster, even without WXTU,” she says. “We only had four FMs, and this rounds out our cluster now. We have a full complement of stations, and we’re absolutely thrilled to have ‘XTU back home.”
How the deal came about is largely independent of Beasley’s most recent transaction involving Entercom — a deal that saw Sports Talk WBZ-FM 98.5 in Boston go to Beasley in exchange of AC WMJX-FM 106.7 and $12 million cash.
“[Entercom CEO] David [Field] reached out to me because he had an opportunity to buy WBEB,” Ms. Beasley says. “David’s a very smart person. He knew that we would love to have ‘XTU back, and we were the obvious choice.” With iHeartMedia at or close to a full complement of stations in Philadelphia and no other major players in the market, a call to Caroline’s office proved integral to allowing Entercom buy WBEB-FM from Jerry Lee in a deal valued at $57.5 million.
Asked about the impact WXTU will have on Beasley Broadcast Group as a whole, Caroline Beasley said the acquisition is accretive to Free Cash Flow by 10x and to net income by 5x. “In terms of the full company operation, it is a very smart acquisition, and fills us out,” she says.
Meanwhile, WXTU’s return to the Beasley family after it was swapped away in 2014 to CBS Radio as part of a multi-market exchange of radio stations in Tampa-St. Petersburg and Charlotte presents new Country opportunities across multiple markets.
“We now have Country stations in Boston, Philadelphia, Las Vegas, Charlotte and in Tampa,” she says. “There are some interesting things we can do with that.”
Meanwhile, Beasley is celebrating the move of WBZ-FM in Boston to newly build facilities at Beasley’s main studios and offices; Monday was the “premiere” of the station’s new home.
It’s the latest achievement for a station Ms. Beasley says Beasley/Boston GM Mary Menna has gotten her arms around. “It wasn’t an easy task,” Beasley reveals.
But, all of the employees “really embraced the change” one year ago, Ms. Beasley adds.
Now, she’s convinced a similar embrace — and “welcome home” celebration — is in store in the City of Brotherly Love.