Is Cox Radio Getting An Apollo Launch?


HOLLYWOOD, FLA. — Two weeks ago, a big rumor involving Cox Media Group turned into reality: A majority interest in Cox Media Group’s TV is being taken by Apollo Global Management.

Apollo is also gaining majority interest in the Dayton Daily News and CMG’s radio properties, comprised of Country WHKO-FM “K99.1,” a market leader in the Nielsen Audio ratings; Classic Hits WZLR-FM 95.3 in Xenia, Ohio, heard in Dayton at 101.1 MHz on W266BG; and News/Talk simulcast WHIO-AM 1290 & WHIO-FM 95.7.

Many industry observers weren’t convinced Cox was done, with its radio stations in play. RBR+TVBR has now confirmed that Apollo is being offered majority control of Cox Radio, too.

Multiple sources confirmed to RBR+TVBR midday Friday (3/1) that Cox Media Group EVP Bill Hendrich conducted a company-wide Town Hall meeting on Thursday.

During the session, Hendrich revealed that Apollo Group has been offered a majority stake in the AM and FM assets it holds.

As of 4pm Eastern, neither Hendrich nor President Kim Guthrie had responded to RBR+TVBR’s request for comment.

In addition to Cox’s Dayton radio stations, the company’s AM and FM holdings are located in Tampa, Jacksonville, Orlando and Miami, Fla.; Atlanta and Athens, Ga.; Tulsa; San Antonio; Nassau-Suffolk; and Houston.

In the eyes of brokers, an Apollo/Cox Radio partnership could be absent of the Orlando and South Florida stations.

As RBR+TVBR reported earlier this month, Beasley Media Group is reportedly highly interested in these Cox Radio clusters. In Miami, it would be a return to a market where it once had a significant presence; those stations are now owned by Entercom and in the latest Nielsen Audio ratings for Miami greatly lag Cox Radio’s dominant cluster.

“It is absolutely true that Beasley Media Group is seeking to acquire Cox Media Group’s Miami and Orlando radio stations,” one of four top brokers noted. Another said, “That makes a lot of sense,” given Beasley’s intimate knowledge of Florida markets.

The company is headquartered in Naples, Fla., where it owns and operates stations. In October 2014, Beasley swapped its Miami and Philadelphia stations for those owned by CBS Radio in Tampa and Charlotte. With Cox’s top-rated Miami quartet of FMs, Beasley would be poised to compete against Entercom, which now has control of its former stations.

Of this group of brokers, two also believed that Apollo Group and Goldman Sachs could be looking at keeping markets such as Jacksonville and Atlanta as part of an investment effort — at least, for now.

Now, it appears Apollo is indeed in the picture — and it could involve all of the clusters Cox will not be divesting, should that rumor pan out.