By SCOTT FYBUSH
Sixty years after the Bordes family founded it in New Jersey, Greater Media is exiting the radio business with a bombshell $240 million sale to Beasley Media Group.
The deal announced at close of business Tuesday will bring Beasley back to the FM dial in Philadelphia, as well as adding a full FM cluster in Boston and – at least for now – a cluster in three central New Jersey markets.
Here’s how it shakes out across NERW-land:
In its headquarters town of Boston, Beasley was a quiet presence with WRCA (1330 Watertown). Now it will add Greater Media’s five FMs to that: modern rock “Alt 92.9” WBOS (92.9 Brookline), rhythmic “Hot 96.9” WBQT (96.9 Boston), country WKLB (102.5 Waltham), classic hits WROR-FM (105.7 Framingham) and AC “Magic” WMJX (106.7 Boston).
It’s incumbent upon us to note (since nobody else will do so!) that the deal will reunite 102.5 and 1330, the former WCRB-FM and WCRB(AM), more than three decades after they were split off to different owners.
In Philadelphia, Beasley exited FM less than two years ago with the CBS Radio swap that gave it toeholds in Tampa and Charlotte in exchange for sending WXTU (92.5) and then-WRDW-FM (96.5, now WZMP) to CBS. Now Beasley gets an even bigger FM cluster from Greater Media: rock WMMR (93.3 Philadelphia), adult hits WBEN-FM (95.7 Philadelphia), sports WPEN-FM (97.5 Burlington NJ) and classic rock WMGK (102.9 Philadelphia). They’ll pair with the rump AM cluster that Beasley retained after the CBS swap: religious WTMR (800 Camden NJ), leased-time WWDB (860 Philadelphia) and the AM Beasley got from CBS, sports WTEL (610 Philadelphia).
Beasley also has AC WJBR (99.5) in the adjacent Wilmington, Delaware market.
And in central New Jersey, Beasley’s new acquisitions sprawl across three sub-markets embedded in greater New York City: in Monmouth-Ocean, it’s rock WRAT (95.9 Point Pleasant) and classic hits WJRZ (100.1 Manahawkin), in Middlesex-Somerset-Union it’s the original Greater Media stations, talk WCTC (1450 New Brunswick) and AC “Magic” WMGQ (98.3 New Brunswick), and out in Morristown it’s oldies WMTR (1250) and rock WDHA (105.5 Dover).
With Beasley rapidly becoming a bigger-market operator – this deal also puts it into Detroit for the first time and sends it over the limit in Charlotte, forcing some spins – will it have any interest in keeping smaller stations like the Jersey cluster and WJBR? Or will those be on the market again, perhaps giving an operator like Connoisseur a chance to add to the ring it’s been building around New York?
The New Jersey clusters would augment Connoisseur’s Long Island cluster and its stations in New Haven and Hartford; because so many of those signals are embedded in the greater New York market, though, Connoisseur could also run up against that market’s ownership caps very quickly.
We’ll be following all the twists and turns this merger takes in the weeks ahead at fybush.com.