Emmis Communications, the owner of 23 radio stations in six markets across the U.S., has offered to purchase all outstanding shares of the company’s stock as part of a privatization effort.
Could other radio companies be headed down this route?
Don’t bet on it, says Kozacko Media Services president Dick Kozacko.
“I don’t expect this to have much effect on the industry,” Kozacko tells RBR + TVBR. “Emmis is not growing, and it is unique to what radio stations and publications they have. I don’t see a mad dash for privatization—not at all.”
Emmis is a multi-platform media company that focuses its radio efforts on a group of stations that includes a standalone in Los Angeles, hip-hop KPWR-FM “Power 106,” and Sports WFNI-AM & FM, News/Talk WIBC-FM, Country WLHK-FM, and AC WYXB-FM in its home market of Indianapolis; Gospel WLIB-AM, Urban WBLS-FM, ESPN Sports Radio affiliate WEPN-FM, and hip-hop WQHT-FM in New York; News/Talk KFTK-FM, CHR/Pop KNOU-FM and Alternative KPNT-FM in St. Louis; and ESPN Radio affiliate WFNF-AM, Hot AC WFNB-FM, Country WTHI-FM & Classic Rock WWVR-FM.
Emmis also enjoys 50.1% interest in an Austin cluster comprised of News/Talk KLBJ-AM, Adult Hits KBPA-FM, Adult Alternative KGSR-FM, Classic Rock KLBJ-FM, Regional Mexican KLZT-FM, and Alternative KROX-FM.
But, Emmis is also known for its “live and local, wherever you go” NextRadio App, a free smartphone application for select FM-enabled Android devices that “marries over-the-air FM radio broadcasts with visual and interactive features.”
Supported carriers include Sprint, AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon, along with their affiliated pay-as-you-go brands.
While Emmis spun off its television stations between August 2005 and May 2008, it continues to own a group of magazines under the Emmis Publishing banner, including Texas Monthly and Los Angeles–until now.
Emmis Publishing will be sold, with Indianapolis Monthly the lone magazine it will own.
WLIB-AM and the Terre Haute, Ind. stations will also be divested, Emmis revealed in an 8-K filing with Securities and Exchange Commission dated August 18.
Radio historians will also note that Emmis famously shed radio stations such as CHR/Pop WAVA-FM in the Washington, DC market and CHR/Pop WLOL-FM in the Minneapolis-St. Paul market in the early 1990s due to its ill-fated ownership of the Seattle Mariners from 1989 to 1992. It later divested two FMs in Chicago, WLUP-FM 97.9 and WKQX-FM 101.1—stations now managed by Cumulus Media.
Those efforts were designed to reinforce Emmis’ strength in its key markets, such as New York and Los Angeles.