Is Emmis’ Future As A Technology Company?

Emmis Jeff Smulyan 1190 WLIB New York Terre HauteFollowing the release of Emmis’ quarterly earnings and sale of KPWR Los Angeles, two of the company’s biggest stockholders are questioning whether the company should shed its remaining broadcast assets.

Timothy Stabosz, Emmis’ third largest shareholder, and stock-broker John Reardon who were both among the biggest opponents of Jeff Smulyan’s attempts to take Emmis private last year both told the Indianapolis Star that they see the company becoming focused on the TagStation/NextRadio and Digonex properties.

Reardon told the Star, “I personally think Emmis is going to be in a slow-motion liquidation” and suggested the company could net $170 million for its remaining properties. He also stated, “After the buyout deal was canceled and the stock languished into the low $2s, you know, I thought about writing them a letter just saying, ‘Hey, if you still want to do it for $4 and change, I’m OK with that”.

Stabosz, who has increased his holdings in Emmis to 500,000 shares, commented to the newspaper that he’d “like to see a systematic effort to rebrand Emmis as a technology firm. I’d like to see it rebranded as NextRadio Inc. or Emmis Technologies, where it’s not tarred with the brush of being old-line radio.”

TagStation is the cloud data service that allows stations to synchronize their broadcasts with images, interactive touch points, and other related data for display in the NextRadio app, HD Radio, and connected car dashboards. NextRadio being the app powering FM reception in many smartphones and expanding to other devices. Digonex collects purchasing patterns and market data to assist companies in setting pricing for ticketed events.

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Lance Venta is the Owner and Publisher of RadioInsight.com and a consultant for RadioBB Networks specializing in integration of radio and the internet. Lance has two decades of experience tracking the audio industry and its use of digital platforms.

3 Comments


  1. I thought that Emmis may end up selling off all their radio stations other then their Indianapolis cluster. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if Emmis decides to exit the radio business altogether. The big question for that would be who would buy all of Emmis’ stations.


    • I don’t think that any one broadcast company right now could absorb the majority of the stations; either a good number of cap-related spinoffs would be needed, or a potential acquirer would be too debt-laden to make such a purchase. Instead, if Emmis starts disposing of its remaining markets, I think they’d be spun off cluster-by-cluster (and not necessarily all at once).

      Beyond that, there are a couple of special circumstances that might come into play: (1.) while Emmis has operational control over the cluster in Austin, I’m pretty sure that it’s still a joint venture where Sinclair Telecable/Sinclair Communications officially owns almost as much; and (2.) even though Emmis still technically owns WEPN-FM, I don’t think that the lease with ESPN could be dissolved quickly.


  2. Financial problems or not ESPN needs to buy 98.7 FM.

    As for 97.1, 107.5, and 1190 Urban One (formerly Radio One) seems like the logical choice, but would they have the money for these stations?

    If they sell the stations individually sadly I see could see one going to EMF. They would probably move K-LOVE to the more powerful signal and then put Air 1 on 96.7. Of course I wouldn’t want this to happen.

    Also would SBS or Univision be interested in buying any of the stations?

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