In the early 2000s, Dick Broadcasting Co. was among the many owners of AM and FM stations that decided to pare down their assets amidst a great wave of consolidation triggered by the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Now, following a year of discussions, Dick has decided to grow again. It just acquired three station groups in the Carolinas from Alpha Media.
For an undisclosed price, Alpha is selling to Dick 18 stations across North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia.
The first group of stations being traded are in the Greenville-New Bern-Jacksonville, N.C., market, and include the following:
The second group of stations is in the fast-growing Myrtle Beach, S.C. market and is comprised of:
Lastly, Dick is acquiring Alpha’s stations in the Savannah, Ga., market, which includes Hilton Head Island, S.C.
These stations are:
For more than a decade, Dick’s holdings were comprised of just two stations in the Greensboro, N.C., market: Classic Rock WKRR-FM “Rock 92” and CHR/Pop WKZL-FM 107.5.
Speaking from the stations’ offices and studios, Dick Broadcasting COO Dick Harlow explained to RBR+TVBR why his company opted to get back into multi-market station ownership.
Harlow says, “The company is an old company — it’s been in the business a long, long time. While we divested markets in the early 2000s, we kept operating the Greensboro stations. Then, we decided to come back out, and conversations started with Alpha.”
These conversations started roughly one year ago, and Dick’s principal — Alan Dick — and Alpha Media Chairman Larry Wilson “have a long history together,” Harlow notes.
Harlow tells RBR+TVBR that Dick will assume control of the 18 Alpha Media stations its acquiring on Sept. 25, by way of an LMA.
Dick Broadcasting was founded in 1953, when the late James A. Dick acquired WIVK in Knoxville. In 1964, he switched it to Country, and the then-AM station began a decades-long journey as one of the nation’s most successful country music operations.
WIVK’s success led Dick Broadcasting to grow to multiple markets; Dick Broadcasting sold all of its stations except WKRR and WKZL in 2000 for a whopping $300 million. The buyer? Citadel Broadcasting, led at the time by Alpha founder Wilson.
James Dick died in February 2011, after a long illness.
Alpha gained the Greenville, N.C.; and Myrtle Beach, S.C.; properties in its August 2015 acquisition of Digity.
The Savannah, Ga., stations came as part of Wilson’s first deal leading to what is today Alpha Media. In December 2012, the former L&L Broadcasting (survived by Alpha’s Portland, Ore., station group) agreed to purchase David Benjamin’s Triad Broadcasting Company for $21 million.
Dick in May 2015 announced that it would not encode its stations for Nielsen Audio’s Portable People Meter (PPM), and in October 2015 inked a deal with Eastlan Ratings, which uses diary methodology.
Harlow would not comment on the future of Nielsen Audio’s contracts in Greenville, N.C.; Myrtle Beach, S.C.; or Savannah, Ga. “We will let any contracts run their course,” he told RBR+TVBR. “There are no conversations about anything like Nielsen. You assume the seller’s positions.”
However, when those contracts run out, Nielsen Audio is expected to be dropped, with Eastlan getting a big boost in the three markets.