The New Old Ownership Groups
Citadel Broadcasting founder Larry Wilson is leading the way with his L&L Broadcasting. Wilson, who also operates Alpha Broadcasting in Portland, has been on a buying spree for the past eleven months. L&L paid $21 Million for 32 Triad Broadcasting stations in five markets before spinning Fargo off for $9.5 Million. They’ve since added Jackson, MS (for $9.4 Million) and Columbia, SC (for $13 Million) from YMF Media, WSSJ Savannah for $1.55 Million, and this week added Border Media’s San Antonio stations for $31 Million. With “Live & Local” as his mantra as well as company name, Wilson’s company still has to prove whether they will put their money where there mouth is as they begin operating along with buying.
Wilson is just one of a handful of former group owners returning to the ownership ranks this year. The other large acquisition came from Dean Goodman’s new Digity group. Goodman, who already operates Palm Beach Broadcasting in Florida and Goodradio.TV in Missouri and Iowa has added NextMedia’s 33 stations to its holdings, while being rumored to be after a few more groups to combine to create a new publicly traded company. Goodman previously served as President/COO of Paxson Communications and had a failed attempt to acquire 180 stations from Clear Channel in 2007. Digity’s website hints that the group will be seeking to build hyper-local digital integration to their radio properties.
On a much smaller scale two other names have made their return to the industry. Greg Reed, formerly VP/GM of Beasley’s Miami properties and at one point the co-owner of the group, purchased Berkshire Broadcasting’s six stations in Pittsfield, MA. Stephen Adams and Ron Stone have reformed Adams Radio Group, which in its previous run from 1980 to 1995 owned stations in markets such as Denver, Phoenix, and San Diego. Their first purchase was for four stations in Las Cruces, NM with plans to add more.
What does the influx on new money and ideas mean for the business? It can only be a positive to bring fresh blood in. The banks that have held onto groups like NextMedia now have the opportunity to cash out and allowing people who wish to operate as opposed to investors to build the businesses. People who want to be involved in radio getting involved in radio can only be a good thing.