With Scripps announcing it plans to divest itself of its 34 radio stations across eight markets, the biggest question being asked is who would want the properties.
In the past a company who operates in mostly top 100 markets that put its properties on the block would be full of suitors. With station groups like Alpha Media, Cumulus and iHeartMedia having financial issues it would be hard to see them as likely bidders for the Scripps properties. That could leave groups like Townsquare Media, Saga, SummitMedia and Entercom interested in most if not all of the Scripps properties.
Going on a market by market basis let’s look at what’s in Scripps portfolio and who may be interested.
Scripps only possesses News/Talk 620 WTMJ and Country 94.5 WKTI, Entercom has to be seen as the most likely suitor to add to its three station cluster of AC “99.1 The Mix” WMYX, CHR “103.7 Kiss-FM” WXSS, and Sports “105.7 The Fan” 1250 WSSP. With WTMJ possessing the play-by-play rights to the Milwaukee Brewers, Milwaukee Bucks, and Green Bay Packers it also hits the right mark for Entercom on that end. The Milwaukee Radio Alliance made up of All Pro Broadcasting and Shamrock Broadcasting’s three stations could also be in position to expand as could Saga if it were to divest one of its weaker FMs like 106.9 WNRG.
Scripps’ second biggest market is Tucson where it possesses four stations: AC “94.9 Mix-FM” KMXZ, Talk 104.1 KQTH, Rhythmic Oldies “106.3 The Groove” KTGV, and Sports “ESPN Tucson” 1490 KFFN. Unless a group like Entercom, Bonneville or Hubbard is seeking to pair up a Tucson cluster with their Phoenix operations there is no real obvious regional player here to compete against Cumulus, iHeartMedia, and Lotus’ clusters.
The five station cluster here includes Classic Hits “92.9 The Drive” KBEZ, Country 98.5 KVOO, Classic Country “Big Country 99.5” KXBL, CHR “106.9 K-Hits” KHTT and Talk 1170 KFAQ. Tyler Media, which owns a massive cluster in Oklahoma City and has two AM/translators and television stations in Tulsa is an obvious fit if looking to expand.
Scripps holds four FMs in Knoxville: Classic Hits 93.1 WNOX, Country “Q100.3” WCYQ, CHR “Star 102.1” WWST, Rhythmic CHR “Hot 104.5” WKHT. The market could be a good regional pairing for Entercom or SummitMedia or for a company like Dick Broadcasting that used to own the now-Cumulus cluster in the market and has been growing again.
The five station cluster of Rock “Z92” KEZO, CHR “Channel 94.1” KQCH, AC “Star 104.5” KSRZ, Classic Rock “CD 105.9“, and Sports “ESPN 590” KXSP on paper looks like a perfect match for Saga’s Des Moines cluster.
Scripps owns four FMs in Boise: AAA “94.9 The River” KRVB, Rock “100.3 The X” KQXR, Classic Rock “J105” KJRT, and Classic Hits “107.1 K-Hits” KTHI. This is the only Scripps market where Townsquare is already operating. On the regional side, if Bonneville or Broadway Media were looking for a good pair for their Salt Lake City properties these would be a great fit.
The five station cluster of Rock “T95” 95.1 KICT, Country 101.3 KFDI, Classic Rock “104.5 The Fox” KFXJ, Regional Mexican “Radio Lobo 106.5” KYQQ, and Classic Country 1070 KFTI is the only market where Scripps competes with Entercom already. There’s no real obvious player here regionally.
The smallest market where Scripps is operating in at market 134, the company owns Country 94.7 KTTS, CHR “Power 96.5” KSPW, Talk simulcast 1260 KSGF/104.1 KSGF-FM, and Variety Hits “106.7 The River” KRVI. Zimmer Radio operates in other regional markets such as Columbia and Joplin and could make a good fit for Springfield.
I’m going to go out on a limb and make the following predictions for the clusters.
Entercom will acquire Milwaukee and Tucson. Bonneville adds Boise. Saga gets Omaha. Townsquare acquires Wichita and Springfield. SummitMedia adds Knoxville and Tulsa.
What about a suitor not currently in radio ownership? The rumor of Lew Dickey seeking to return to station ownership will not go away until he finally makes a move, but until he actually makes that move it seems as though Dickey wants the aura of returning more than actually returning to station ownership.