What’s Next For SummitMedia?


A pure-play radio broadcasting company active in six markets including Honolulu could be poised for growth in the coming months.

That’s because Jon Kelly — a key investor in Birmingham, Ala.-based SummitMedia —has agreed to purchase the controlling interest in the company held by Highpoint Holdings.

News filtered across the radio industry trade press late Thursday.

The move makes Kelly and CEO Carl Parmer as the two main players in the company, which has veteran programmer Bill Tanner overseeing its flagship Birmingham stations.

In prepared comments delivered to Streamline Publishing co-owned publication Radio INK, Parmer said, “Jon has been our largest individual shareholder since inception and we are delighted he will become our controlling shareholder pending FCC approval. Not only is he a good friend, but he and his family have a long and incredibly successful history in broadcasting in the U.S. His commitment to SummitMedia positions us to take advantage of strategic opportunities and grow our platform in the years ahead.”

Kelly’s investment in SummitMedia also brought a positive reaction from Garret Komjathy, SVP of U.S. Bank’s Media, Communications and Beverage Division. “Given U.S. Bank’s long-standing relationship with SummitMedia, we are very pleased to continue our relationship and support of SummitMedia and its investor group,” he said. “We are looking forward to this next phase in SummitMedia’s growth and expansion.”

Kelly is well-known in California’s State Capital, as his Kelly Broadcasting Co. signed on NBC affiliate KCRA-3 in Sacramento in Sept. 1955. The Kelly family sold KCRA in 1999; The Kelly Foundation, which makes grants to various charitable organizations in Sacramento for the benefit of children, continues.

In addition to his broadcast media ownership, Kelly is the founder of River City Bank, who started the financial institution in 1973.

Should SummitMedia start buying stations, look for Kalil & Co. to be the broker representative. The Tucson-based brokerage house’s founder and President, Frank Kalil, commented on Kelly’s investment in SummitMedia by noting, “Jon has been a dominant force in both radio and television ownership. It is great to see such a successful and experienced broadcaster committed to backing radio, and in a big way.”

At present, SummitMedia operates nine brands (thanks to FM translators) in its home market of Birmingham. Additionally, it operates five brands in the Greenville-Spartanburg market, with three serving as HD signals tied to WJMZ-FM 107.3.

Further, SummitMedia enjoys a six-station cluster in Honolulu, including such legendary stations as AC KRTR-FM “Krater 96,” Hawaiian AC KINE-FM 105.1, Hawaiian Pop KCCN-FM 100.3, and CHR/Rhythmic KPHW-FM “Power 104.3.”

SummitMedia’s other holdings include a four FM cluster in Louisville, Ky.; and a six-brand cluster including two FM translators in Richmond, Va. It operates WALJ-FM in Tuscaloosa, Ala., under an LMA agreement with Apex Broadcasting.

All of SummitMedia’s holdings were acquired in a $66.25 million transaction with Cox Media Group that closed in May 2013. At closing, Parmer and Tanner each held a 3.5% stake in SummitMedia, as did David Dubose, Paul F. Bankston, and Darryl Grondines.

Highpoint held 82.25% ownership, with a 25% stake in that ownership percentage attributed to Jeffrey Austin Brooks, Russ Taylor, Patrick Sullivan and Jeffrey D. Brooks.