Deb McDermott-led Group Enters Radio, Adds TV Properties


In May 2019Deb McDermott gained the industry’s attention for the acquisition of television stations in Providence, R.I., and Lincoln, Neb., by the company she holds the title of CEO for, Standard Media Group.

Now, Standard Media is growing again: It’s just struck a deal to purchase nine TV stations across six markets.

Oh, and it’s also the nation’s newest radio broadcasting company, thanks in part to broker of record Kalil & Co.

In an agreement announced after business hours Monday, Nashville-based Standard Media is acquiring the following stations from Waypoint Media and Vision Communications LLC in a transaction with a total value of $59.2 million:

  • FOX & NBC affiliate WGBC-TV in Meridian, Miss.
  • FOX affiliate WHPM-LD in Hattiesburg, Miss.
  • NBC affiliate WNBJ-LD in Jackson, Tenn.
  • FOX and CBS affiliate KJNB-LD and KJNE-LD in Jonesboro, Ark.
  • FOX and NBC affiliate WPBI-LD and ABC affiliate WPBY-LD in Lafayette, Ind.
  • FOX affiliate WYDC-TV and MyNet affiliate WJKP in Elmira-Corning, N.Y.

The deal also calls for Standard Media to purchase Waypoint’s news production operations located in Little Rock.

But, that’s peanuts compared to perhaps the even-bigger news involving McDermott, who is perhaps best-known in the media world for her association with ABC affiliate WKRN-2 in Nashville, today owned by Nexstar Media Group.

Standard Media is also acquiring 15 AM and FM radio stations in three markets licensed to Star City Broadcasting in Lafayette, Ind., and Bettina Finn‘s Sound Communications in the Twin Tiers markets of Olean, N.Y.-Bradford, Pa. and Corning-Elmira, N.Y.

Finn is the wife of Brian Finn, an early investor in Vision.

The Indiana stations are comprised of WAZY-FM, WBPE-FM, WYCM-FM and WSHY-AM.

In New York, Sound owns WGGO-AM, WMXO-FM, WOEN-AM, WQRS-FM and WZKZ-FM in Olean; and WENI-AM & FM, WENY-AM & FM, WGMM-FM and WKPQ-FM in Corning-Elmira, N.Y.

RBR+TVBR has learned that due to the complexity of the deal, some six separate asset purchase agreements will be filed with the FCC.

In prepared comments distributed late Monday, McDermott said, “This is the second acquisition Standard Media has announced in 2019, and we are looking forward to adding these stations to our expanding broadcast group,” McDermott said. “We are also excited to begin working with the talented teams in each of these markets. Waypoint and Vision have been successful in building these station groups, and our focus will be on continued growth with a focus on quality news.”

The “we” at Standard includes McDermott and one Soohyung Kim, who ultimately controls these stations.

If his name is familiar, it is because he teamed with Emmis Communications founder and CEO Jeff Smulyan on July 1 to form Mediaco.

Mediaco will see Standard General take 76% ownership of the newly created company; its first assets are WBLS-FM and WQHT-FM “Hot 97” in New York.

Given that investment, the Lafayette stations could see Smulyan’s involvement in some way.

In the Twin Tiers, McDermott will largely compete against 7 Mountains Media, among other smaller operators.

For the sellers, the deal marks “a bittersweet moment” for Waypoint Media’s founder, Mike Reed.

As RBR+TVBR reported extensively over the years, Reed and his business partner, Bill Christian, are largely responsible for building out the Lafayette, Ind., TV market as one of its own.

“I love this business that has been so much fun and so kind over a lifetime career in
television, but we are pleased that we can place our stations and our staffs in the care of broadcast leaders like Deb McDermott and [Standard Media] COO Stan Knott,” Reed said. “They are well respected and experienced TV operators who will continue to expand on our mission to serve our local communities by ‘paying it forward’ while providing a great environment for our dedicated staff.”

The transaction, subject to regulatory approval and other customary closing conditions, is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2020.

Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP acted as legal advisor to Standard Media in connection with this transaction.

Kalil & Co. acted as exclusive financial advisor to Waypoint and Vision.


Christian, Reed Point The Way To News Hub Growth

A Little Rock-based division of Media Gateway providing ways for stations to produce local newscasts in their markets in a high-tech and “cost-effective” way has been purchased by a pair of broadcast executives who own and manage 18 TV stations across the U.S.