Dan Snyder’s Red Zebra Broadcasting bought a trio of Washington area radio stations a couple of years ago as companions to his NFL Washington Redskins. The stations are among the signal-challenged, however. Now comes word that Red Zebra is in negotiations with Clear Channel for its three Washington AM stations, including Sports WTEM-AM. Of the three Washington stations currently comprising Red Zebra’s Triple X ESPN Radio offering, only one is anywhere near the iconic Beltway, and that is the weak WXTR-AM in Alexandria VA. WWXT-FM Prince Frederick MD is well off to the southeast of the city, and WWXX-FM Warrenton VA is well off to the west.
RBR/TVBR observation: One of the Senate’s leading free market gurus is John Sununu (R-NH). We remember him grilling a witness at a Commerce Committee hearing one time on the topic of media ownership. Arguing for deregulation, he said that maybe the reason Clear Channel had the most listeners, ratings and revenues was because it was the best radio programmer. We immediately thought of Red Zebra.
You can be for or against further relaxing local radio caps. But any radio pro knows that Sununu grotesquely simplified the equation to make his free market point. Stick value is a simple fact of life. Without a good one, you cannot win. NOBODY could compete in the general Washington DC market effectively with the trio assembled by Red Zebra. The are so inadequate that Snyder had to cut a deal to put the Redskins on Clear Channel’s WBIG-FM to get the games out to all area football fans. The wonder of it all is that someone told him getting the trio for $33M was a good idea in the first place.