Emmis Sells Its Stake In Austin Partnership


In an announcement distributed at Noon Eastern on Monday (6/10), the ever-shrinking Emmis Communications confirmed that it is saying goodbye to the capital of the Lone Star State.

For $39.3 million, the Indianapolis-based company led by Jeff Smulyan is handing its 50.1% controlling interest in six Austin radio stations and two FM translators to its partner, Sinclair Telecable Inc.

Emmis and Sinclair have been partners since Emmis purchased its controlling interest in July 2003.

It’s a different Sinclair than the one you are likely thinking of: Sinclair Telecable is not in any way affiliated with Sinclair Broadcast Group, licensee of KEYE-TV in Austin and many other TV stations across the U.S.

Sinclair Telecable is headed by Bob and David Sinclair, who have owned radio stations in Austin since 1995. The company also owns and operates 7 FM, 2 AM, and 2 FM translators in Norfolk, and in the Sonoma County, Calif., area.

For Austin, the group of stations will be rebranded as Waterloo Media — perhaps to distance itself from the Sinclair Broadcast Group.

“It’s been a fabulous run in Austin, operating in one of America’s best radio markets with such a special team and winning culture,” said Smulyan. “I can’t say enough great things about the performance of our incredible team in Austin. Our focus at Emmis now will be on transitioning to new areas of growth. I’m thrilled to say we didn’t need to look far to find a committed, well-known buyer who feels the same way about the Austin team. The Sinclairs have been great partners and will undoubtedly take the operation to new heights.”

Bob Sinclair said, “David and I echo Jeff’s sentiments about the absolute excellence of our entire staff in Austin, from our VP/Market Manager Scott Gillmore, VP of Sales Bruce Walden, and VP of Programming Chase Rupe, to our advertising sales force, great on-air personalities, and all of our support people. The fact that the vast majority of our employees have been with the radio stations for many years is a credit to Jeff, his management team, and reputation that Emmis has had for decades.

“David and I are 100% committed to continuing the great community service that these stations have provided since their inception,” he continued. “We had the honor of being partners with Luci Baines Johnson and the LBJ Holding Company before Emmis and I would like to say how proud we have been to be associated with these heritage stations for so long. I live in Austin and we look forward to many more years serving the Austin community and of course providing great advertising opportunities to businesses in this dynamic market.”

The Austin radio cluster includes eight station brands: KLBJ-AM 590 (with an FM Translator at 99.7 MHz), Rock KLBJ-FM 93.7, No. 1-rated Adult Hits KBPA-FM 103.5 “Bob FM,” dominant Regional Mexican KLZT-FM 107.1 “La Zeta,” recently launched Soft AC KGSR-FM “Star 93.3,” Alternative KROX-FM 101.5 “101X,” “Austin City Limits Radio” on an FM translator at 97.1 MHz, and Spanish Contemporary “Latino 102.7” via a second FM translator.

Moelis & Company LLC represented Emmis as exclusive financial advisor.