Emmis Chicago station sale not seen as imminent


Emmis told the Securities and Exchange Commission in a recent filing that it may consider spinning off three of its major market radio stations from time to time, two of which are in Chicago. However, there was nothing in the Emmis statement that made it appear anything was in the works. A local media writer confirms that there are no changes afoot.

Lewis Lazare of the Chicago Sun-Times noted that local Emmis Chicago Market Manager Marv Nyren is well aware that the two stations, WLUP-FM & WKQX-FM, may go on the block. They indicated they were aware that the sale possibility was in Emmis honcho Jeff Smulyan’s long-range thinking, but had no speculation to offer on timing.

Lazare cited other anonymous Chicago radio sources who believed that the severe drop-off in station values in the past five years was a reason not to do anything right away. Speculation is that stations such as the two in question would attract only a third of what they may have gotten back then. Current estimates for WLUP and WKQX place their value at between $50M and $60M apiece.

Another reason to expect nothing soon, according to local conventional wisdom, is Smulyan’s current focus on taking the company private.

Although neither station was in the top ten 25-54 in a recent Arbitron survey cited by Lazare, Nyren said that WKQX is in the best shape it has been in for years and that WLUP was in the process of turning around a recent ratings slump.