Cumulus Spins Nine In Blockbuster Deals With EMF, Entercom

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UPDATED AT 7pm CT


As many radio industry executives gather today (2/13) in Nashville for the 50th Country Radio Seminar (CRS), all eyes have suddenly turned to New York — and the market’s Country station.

Thanks to a blockbuster three-way deal, Entercom Communications has agreed to acquire WNSH-FM 94.7, a Class B licensed to Newark, N.J., known as “NASH FM 94.7.”

This deal also includes two stations in Springfield, Mass., coming from Cumulus Media. In exchange, Entercom is parting ways with a three-station Midwest market.

There’s more: Cumulus is spinning six more stations — including two crown jewels in the former ABC Radio. The buyer is the nation’s No. 2 licensee of radio stations, and it is paying more than $100 million in that deal.

In exchange of the Bay State duo — Class B AC WMAS-FM 94.7 and 1kw Class C WHLL-AM 1450 “NASH Icon” — and WNSH, Entercom is giving Cumulus its trio of stations in Indianapolis in a transaction that is immediately accretive to Entercom.

The Indianapolis cluster is comprised of WXNT-AM, WNTR-FM and WZPL-FM.

“We are excited to add NASH FM 94.7 to our outstanding lineup in New York City and to add WMAS and WHLL to our cluster in Springfield,” said Entercom President/CEO David Field. “We are saddened to part ways with our colleagues in Indianapolis, but know that they will be in great hands.”

WNSH joins a cluster of stations formerly owned by CBS Radio: WINS-AM, WCBS-AM & FM, WFAN-AM & FM, WNYL-FM 92.3 and WNEW-FM 102.7.

The parties will begin programming the respective stations being acquired under Local Marketing Agreements on Friday, March 1.

This exchange transaction is expected to close in Q2.

The other Cumulus deal involves the sale of six stations to Educational Media Foundation for $103.5 million.

With the net proceeds going to pay down debt and “reinvest in growth opportunities,” Educational Media Foundation will acquire six major radio stations — including two FMs that were once crown jewels in the ABC Radio family.

EMF is acquiring WYAY-FM in Atlanta; WPLJ-FM in New York; KFFG-FM in San Jose, WZAT-FM in Savannah, Ga; WXTL-FM in Syracuse; and WRQX-FM in Washington, D.C.

EMF will acquire all of the transmission equipment and assume all tower leases associated with the stations, which collectively contribute approximately $5 million-$7 million of EBITDA to Cumulus annually, the Atlanta-based company says.

When will the changes take place?

This deal is also expected to close in Q2. It was erroneously reported earlier today that an LMA would go into effect March 1, which is only for the Entercom deal.

While WNSH’s sale to Entercom is certainly noteworthy to CRS attendees, the bigger conversation across the industry will most certainly be the end of WRQX-FM “Mix 107.3,” which was “Q107” and Top 40 throughout the 1980s and one of ABC Radio’s most successful properties under PDs including Lorrin Palagi and GSMs such as Barry O’Brien.

Interestingly, WRQX outlived Top 40 rival WAVA-FM 105.1, which Emmis Communications sold to Salem Media Group and changed to Christian Talk & Teaching on Feb. 14, 1992.

Now, some 27 years later, WAVA’s former rival is following it on a path toward Jesus.

Then, there is the demise of WPLJ — a legendary AOR turned CHR under PD Larry Berger, who died September 25, 2018.

Cumulus President/CEO Mary G. Berner said, “These transactions are consistent with our portfolio optimization strategy, and both deals are accretive. The Entercom swap significantly bolsters our competitive position in Indianapolis and the EMF transaction generates substantial cash for debt repayment and investment in other business opportunities.”

For EMF, the Cumulus deal will bring the number of K-LOVE radio signals to 564 nationally, answering questions over whether it will put that or its Air 1 Worship Music format on the stations it is getting.

“We are thrilled to add these stations to the K-LOVE network and for the opportunity to
continue to bring people closer to Jesus,” said Alan Mason, EMF President and Interim CEO. “Our mission is to create compelling media that inspires and encourages listeners
to have a meaningful relationship with Christ. These are legendary stations that will
enable us to enter new markets in Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Savannah and Syracuse
and expand our footprint in New York.”