Proffitt-Minded Play: What’s Next For Alpha?

0

ORLANDO — When Alpha closed on its purchase of Digity LLC in late winter 2016, it made Alpha — a Breakwater Management portfolio company — the No. 4 radio company in America.


Today, it is poised to become a smaller and more efficient operation — without the man who created the company.

Breakwater is a Los Angeles-based private investment firm that specializes in direct investments in leading lower middle market businesses that demonstrate attractive opportunities for growth.

“We are delighted with the ongoing rapid expansion of Alpha Media through this significant tuck-in acquisition, adding a great complement of radio markets to our existing national footprint,” said Saif Mansour, founder and Co-Managing Partner at Breakwater. “Larry Wilson and his team have quickly established a market leader in the radio broadcasting industry, leveraging their past experience and relationships to target highly accretive acquisition opportunities. We look forward to continuing to support their expansion plans.”

Wiley Rein served as transaction and regulatory counsel to Alpha Media on its Digity purchase.

Fast-forward to September 2018, and Alpha is a slightly different operation.

By late July, chatter among brokers, attorneys and industry observers regarding Alpha Media and its need to part ways with some of the stations it acquired from Digity LLC reached a fever pitch.

On July 26, the company made a move—and agreed to sell two FMs and an AM in tiny Clinton, Mo. — population 9,000 as of the 2010 Census.

Radford Media Group is paying $250,000 to Alpha for the trio of station, and this deal marks its entry into media ownership.

Kalil & Co. is Alpha’s broker, and started shopping around other stations.

Four days later, Alpha announced that Wilson, who ranked eleventh in Radio Ink’s annual 40 Most Powerful People in Radio, was out at Alpha, a company he founded.

The company declined to answer questions regarding Wilson’s health. He was visibly under the weather at the 2018 NAB Show in Las Vegas in early April.

Then, on Sept. 17., another Alpha Media market exit was finalized — suggesting that much more was on the way.

For the sum of $1.85 million, Alpha is selling the following stations to First Media Services:

  • Class B WHIS-AM 1440, Class C WKEZ-AM 1240, Class C WHAJ-FM 104.5, Class A WHKX-FM 106.3 and FM translator W254CV in Bluefield, W. Va.
  • Class C3 WHQX-FM 107.7 in Gary, W. Va., which covers the Bluefield area.
  • Class A WKOY-FM 100.9 in Princeton, W. Va., also serving the Bluefield region.

First Media will add the Alpha stations to WKQB-FM in Pocahantas, Va., adjacent to Bluefield, and West Virginia holdings comprised of WELC-AM 1150 and FM translator W227DU in Welch, WKQR-FM 92.7 in Mullins, WAMN-AM 1050 in Green Valley, and Bluefield-based FM translators W233CL and W247BO.

Alpha acquired the Bluefield, W. Va. stations in December 2012, in a $21 million deal that saw the company add stations in Peoria, Ill.; Biloxi, Miss.; Fargo, N.D.-Moorhead, Minn.; Savannah, Ga.; and Hilton Head, S.C. from Triad Broadcasting Co., then-led by David Benjamin.

Interestingly, Benjamin is back in radio ownership, as the principal of an entity acquiring four full-powered FM stations and an FM translator an hour’s drive from the south side of Chicago.

Wilson is chairman of the board at Alpha, but the company is largely in the hands of President/CEO Bob Proffitt.

With profit a key focus for Proffitt, further deleveraging could see many more deals carried out by Kalil & Co.