It looks like the rumors are at least partly true: CBS Radio has signed a definitive agreement to purchase WRXP-FM NY from Merlin Media for $75 million. In late fall (mid-November most likely), CBS Radio will begin its operation of the station under an LMA, launching a simulcast of its Sports Radio 66 WFAN. The new calls will be, of course, WFAN-FM. This follows ESPN’s NY migration to FM via the Emmis LMA/lease on 98.7 mHz.
“This is an extremely exciting opportunity to expand our radio presence in the nation’s largest market,” said Dan Mason, CBS Radio CEO. “Sports is a very popular format and a huge growth category for our business. As a result of this new asset, we look forward to The FAN building on its position as the leading sports radio franchise in the country.
CBS Radio spokesperson Allison Mandara confirms the 660 frequency will stay a simulcast: “The AM signal will remain the same station you know and love, just with an FM counterpart.”
Merlin Media CEO Randy Michaels tells RBR-TVBR: “Merlin is now debt free and will focus on Chicago, Philly and growth.”
Michaels also sent email to staff:
Rumors about Merlin have been rampant. Today we are announcing the sale of WRXP/New York. Many talented people have worked hard to create a terrific Alternative station, but our obligation to retire significant debt necessitates this decision. Thanks to everyone for your hard work with New Rock 101.9. The formats initial success made the decision very difficult.
There is a very positive impact of this sale on our balance sheet. This change allows us to increase focus on operating a successful company. Merlin is not for sale, and is looking at possible additions to our portfolio. Let’s focus building the Chicago and Philadelphia stations into great, profitable brands and great places to work.