In this week’s issue… Behind WABC’s new owner and low sale price – Owens out at WROR – PA cluster sells – Cox radio stations change hands – Craig says goodbye to Hartford – WEBE to leave its smokestack?
By SCOTT FYBUSH
*When Cumulus announced on Thursday that it had reached a deal to sell WABC (770) in NEW YORK, only one of three pieces of the announcement should have come as any sort of surprise.
That WABC was for sale was a foregone conclusion: once Cumulus parted out the two valuable FMs in the cluster, first WNSH (94.7) to Entercom and then WPLJ (95.5) to EMF, it was pretty much a given that WABC and its remaining FM sister, little WNBM (103.9), were available to interested buyers.
The identity of the buyer? That piece truly was a surprise – while John Catsimatidis has been a familiar face in New York political and business circles for years as the owner of Gristedes supermarkets, mayoral candidate and active political donor, his media activity until now had been limited to a weekend talk show on Salem’s WNYM (970) and a brief, unsuccessful attempt to back a purchase of the Daily News in 2015.
The price? For many, $12.5 million for what was once one of New York’s most important radio stations seemed shockingly low. But in the radio marketplace of 2019, and given what WABC has become, that number really shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise at all. Read on for our exclusive analysis of why – and where Catsimatidis might be going with his new property. (Plus two more huge stories from this busy pre-holiday week – the new ownership at Cox and the end of a Boston radio institution…)
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