WRKS Intellectual Property To Be Merged Into WBLS

98.7 Kiss Kiss-FM KissFM WRKS New York 107.5 WBLS YMF Media Tom Joyner Michael Baisden
In addition to leasing the 98.7 frequency in New York to ESPN, Emmis has sold the “Kiss-FM” intellectual property to YMF Media which will merge it into its 107.5 WBLS.

WRKS and WBLS began a delayed simulcast at 10am this morning as the stations begin to transition 98.7’s audience over to 107.5.

WRKS middayer Shalia and night host Lenny Greene will move to WBLS in the same timeslots. WBLS will retain Steve Harvey in the mornings and Jeff Foxx in afternoons. Tom Joyner, Michael Baisden, and Keith Sweat lose their syndicated slots. WBLS’s midday shift had been vacant since Egypt departed the station in February.

Prior to the sign-off of “98.7 Kiss-FM” this weekend the stations will pay tribute to the history of Kiss.

Here’s Emmis Press Release:
Emmis Communications EMMS +12.63% today announced a long-term Local Programming and Marketing Agreement (LMA) with ESPN Radio to provide programming and sell advertising on New York’s 98.7FM. Emmis also entered into a transaction to sell the intellectual property rights of Kiss FM, the current format Emmis programs on 98.7FM, to YMF Media, who is in the process of acquiring New York radio stations WBLS-FM and WLIB-AM. In conjunction with these transactions, Emmis also announced that it entered into a loan agreement with a large insurance company. The total consideration related to the proceeds from the loan agreement, initial payment from the sale of Kiss FM intellectual property rights, and the present value of certain loan reserves required under the agreement with the insurance company which Emmis expects to receive in the future, will be approximately $96 million. The long-term LMA is not tied to a sale of the station. Transaction proceeds will be used to repay amounts outstanding under Emmis’ senior credit facility and to pay transaction fees and expenses.

“We want to thank our loyal employees and especially the fans of Kiss FM for an amazing 30 year run including several periods where Kiss was the number one ranked station in New York,” Emmis Chairman and CEO Jeff Smulyan said. “Recent changes in the way radio ratings are measured made it very difficult for us to find success with Kiss FM despite the great work of our Emmis New York team. We hope the best parts of Kiss will continue to live on. With enhanced financial flexibility we look forward to enhancing our service to New York’s urban community at our award winning Hot97 brand.”

This weekend Emmis New York plans to celebrate 30 years of Kiss FM. Emmis purchased Kiss FM 98.7 in 1994.

“I have so many friends on the Kiss FM team and this is an extraordinarily difficult decision for me, however the benefits to the financial health of Emmis as a whole are significant. Coupled with the sale of a controlling interest in three of our radio stations to Merlin Media and the forthcoming sale of KXOS in Los Angeles, we will have one of the healthiest balance sheets in media thereby positioning Emmis for future growth,” Smulyan said.

The Emmis employees affected by today’s announcement will receive generous severance packages.

Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP and Wiley Rein LLP served as legal counsel and Moelis & Company served as financial advisor to Emmis.

  1. Grandmotherlove says

    What happens to my favorite shows like “WEEK END IN REVIEW”

  2. Phillip Gill says

    It’s a shame that neither station could figure out how to negotiate the current rating system. Apparently, playing the Cee-lo, Melanie record for two years isn’t the answer. The programming at bls has been horrendous at best, and this was inevitable.

  3. Chucky says

    This has nothing to do with ratings. Emmis is in a financial bind — it sold stations in NYC and Chicago last summer, it’s leasing a station in Los Angeles to a Mexican company, it’s leasing WRKS to ESPN. Stockholders are in revolt.

  4. nadia says

    it was the listeners that kept kiss afloat for 30 years. It bothers me that you did this with no heads up, you didn’t think you owed us at least that. i can go back to frankie crocker i’m a long time listener and i regret this move. i realize this was a financial move on the owners part but still, it is a shame you could not find a way to improve your ratings. therotation of music at bls in the morning after steve harvey is horrible, so at best i hope you will improve the programming. losing michael baisden will be a huge loss for black radio because he’s done so much and given so much information pushed people to vote the reportoire of his work is endless,i consider him a great humanitarian, for me he will be sorely missed. i hope that in the next 30 years wbls will be a station to contend with!

  5. fazamy says

    I, too, am concerned about the fate of the Sunday morning and Sunday Evening public affairs programs on KISS. They have been the necessary advocates for the black community in the tri-state area. Because I rarely listen to either for their music programming which I think is dated and boring, I always felt it was going to be the downfall of either one or the other.

    1. md says

      My My fear is that WBLS will share the same fate. The inability to balance music currency and socially important news has been their conundrum. When I listen to “Steve Harvey Morning Show” the following morning to get some sense of direction of how he was going to proceed through the controversy, as usual he did not disappoint me. His staff (knowing the current WRKS contentious climate) asked him “did he read his emails”, his reply was that “those of us with multiple job opportunities are not able to always read their emails”. After a station break he returned reading an email from a gentleman by the name of ‘Hudson” expressing his concern of the removal of such informative shows as “Open Line and Week in Review”. Hudson looked to Steve to further carry the torch of the important groundwork laid by these shows. Steve’s response was “His first respo0nsibilty was to inspire his audience, his second was that he was not going to talk about every black issue and third that his show was for everybody”. This need to assimilate into the primary culture has continuously shown to be detrimental when it came to the progressive development of African American community. His statement to Hudson only reiterates that he is not the one to assist the African American community in the dissemination of important information.

  6. 412News says

    WOW. :/ This reminds me when WAMO (urban station)in pittsburgh went off the air after 65 years in 2009. but came back in 2011 but it now on a low powered translator

  7. Emily Mascarenhas-Bennett says

    Musically, both stations are dated. If Kiss FM plays anthor Rolls Royce song, Im gonna lose it. Both stations are on some anti-current music thing. Gotta keep the music old for some reason.

    Im gonna miss Kiss FM’s Sunday morning and Sunday Evening public affairs programs.

  8. Skeeter Sanders says

    I was utterly stunned when I read the news. I’m a New York native who left the Big Apple some 30 years ago for California (I now live in Vermont).

    Having grown up listening to “The Total Black Experience in Sound” on WBLS and later becoming a loyal listener to “The Quiet Storm” of WBLS’ sister station in San Francisco, KBLX (which was sold to Entercom in the wake of Inner City Broadcasting’s bankruptcy), the news has hit me as if there had been a death in my family.

    While WBLS’ format is unlikely to change — after more than 35 years of sinking very deep cultural roots in New York’s African-American community, WBLS’ new owner, YMF Partners, which includes former NBA star Earvin “Magic” Johnson, isn’t about to “rock the boat” — the same, however, cannot be said of Entercom, who immediately fired KBLX’s morning host and program director, Kevin Brown as well as other local DJs.

    San Francisco is known as a media market whose residents categorically reject radio shows that don’t have a local flavor (A fact that Clear Channel learned the hard way). Unlike WBLS, KBLX’s super-smooth “Quiet Storm” format is not secure.

    And that deeply worries me personally. KBLX gave me the inspiration to host my own version of “The Quiet Storm” on a (thankfully) non-profit, non-commercial (and therefore ratings-proof) station here in Vermont, where I’ve been on the air for almost 14 years.

    From where I sit, it’s become crystal clear to me that commercial, over-the-air radio as Americans have known it over the past 50 years is doomed. It’s no secret that non-commercial stations are gaining audiences (Just ask any station that’s affiliated with NPR).

    And Internet radio is booming, providing music choices that the commercial over-the-air stations are no longer providing (I should know; my program has been carried on an Internet station since last September and is drawing thousands of new listeners every week).

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