Fisher Communications to Be Acquired by Sinclair Broadcasting for $373.3 Million. Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc. announces that it has entered into a definitive merger agreement to acquire Fisher Communications, Inc. for $373.3 million. The deal will see Fisher shareholders get $41 in cash for each share of Fisher common stock. That’s 44% over the closing price of Fisher stock on January 9 of this year. Fisher only owns three radio signals – hot AC KPLZ “Star 101.5,” all-news KOMO-AM and news/talk KVI (it manages South Sound Broadcasting-owned KOMO-FM as a simulcast of KOMO-AM). It owns 20 television stations. Sinclair president and CEO David Smith states, “We are excited to acquire Fisher and expand our coverage westward, especially in the two key markets of Seattle (DMA 12) and Portland (DMA 22). Started in 1910, Fisher’s history of operating television and radio stations in the northwest corner of the U.S. has played an important role in its communities and in producing high-quality local news. We look forward to expanding upon those traditions and improving the cash flow of the stations through the benefits that come with our scale.” Sinclair began selling off its radio stations in the 1990s and sold the final bunch in 2000. It seems very likely that the TV-centric company would turn around and sell the Seattle radio stations, however it has not indicated its intent regarding a return to radio.
KNX, Los Angeles to Celebrate 45 Years as All-News Outlet. On Monday, April 15, CBS Radio’s KNX, Los Angeles will recognize its 45th year as an all-news radio station. As the company notes in a statement, “A stunned nation was still in shock following the assassination of Martin Luther King when just 11 days later on April 15, 1968, CBS-owned KNX-AM significantly increased the time it devoted to news coverage, essentially launching an all-news format that continues today…Less than two months after the King shooting in Memphis, KNX would be covering another national tragedy, this one with indelible ties to Los Angeles, when Sen. Robert F. Kennedy was killed at the Ambassador Hotel on Wilshire Boulevard. Before the 60s drew to a close, KNX would cover a moon landing and a Manson massacre, symbolic of the mix of prominent national and local events that were to become the fabric of KNX’s dedication to reporting major news stories.” KNX director of news and programming Andy Ludlum says, “Since 1968 we’ve seen eight U.S. presidents, six California governors and five L.A. mayors. We’ve had riots, fires, earthquakes, mudslides, hosted the Olympics, lost a couple of football teams, rooted the Lakers to 11 titles, watched OJ run wild on the freeways and recently endured a nightmarish hunt for a fugitive cop-killer. And through it all, KNX has embodied trust, integrity and credibility. We all feel a sense of responsibility to follow in the footsteps of so many great KNX news people like Bill Keene, Alex Sullivan, Jon Goodman, Barry Rohde, Beach Rogers, Dave Zorn and Harry Birrell, to name just a few. You hear the pride in the great heritage of KNX in the work of today’s anchors like Dick Helton, Vicky Moore, Tom Haule, Linda Nunez, Diane Thompson, Jim Thornton and Chris Sedens.”
Roby Wiener Joins Courtside Entertainment Group. Ad executive Roby Wiener becomes part of the Courtside Entertainment Group in a newly created position: executive vice president of client strategy. Courtside says that in this post, Wiener will oversee branding, client strategy and market research for all of Courtside’s divisions, including radio, Launchpad Digital Media and PodcastOne.com. She will be based in New York and will report directly to Courtside chairman Norm Pattiz. Pattiz states, “I can’t think of a better person to communicate the value of the changes that are going on in media today. I’ve known Roby longer than I’ve known my wife and I love her almost as much. I couldn’t be happier to have her as a part of our team on this very exciting ride.” Wiener most recently served with Dial Global, joining the company after its merger with Westwood One which she’d been with since 2006 as chief marketing officer and EVP of marketing. Previously, Wiener served as executive vice president client strategies & services for the Premiere Radio Networks for eight years and spent over 11 years at Warner-Lambert, a leading consumer product company that was among the top five largest national radio advertisers, as senior media manager of the company’s Advertising Services Department. She says, “Technology continues to shape the way people share ideas and my passion has always been to help advertisers be an important part of that dialog. Launchpad’s communication platform provides a remarkable new approach for advertisers to tell their stories with an authenticity that truly resonates with consumers, engaging with them on their terms. I have had the pleasure of working with both Norm Pattiz and Dan Yukelson at various stages of my career and I am eager to collaborate with them and the team in this new venture.”
Longtime Bubba the Love Sponge Producer Brent Hatley Exits. The man who’s been Bubba the Love Sponge’s right-hand man for the past 13 years tells the Tampa Bay Times that there is no acrimony between he and Bubba the Love Sponge – he simply wants to branch out into other things and he’s unable to pursue those interests while continuing to work on the program. Bubba told his audience that Brent Hatley would be leaving, admitting he’s surprised by the move but saying the door is always open to Hatley coming back should he choose to. In the meantime, Shannon Burke – former WTKS, Orlando talk show host and current personality on Bubba’s online radio channel Radio IO – will get a weeklong tryout to take over Hatley’s role with the WHPT, Tampa-based program.
KFWB, Los Angeles Adds Sports Programming. L.A. news/talk outlet KFWB announces it is adding sports talk content to its news and talk programming. Using content from CBS Sports Radio Network and NBC Sports Radio Network, the station will air Jim Rome’s commentaries (CBS) as well as the Amani & Eytan show (NBC) with Amani Toomer and Eytan Shander for the 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm slot plus the Eric Kuselias program (NBC) from 3:00 am to 5:00 am. KFWB is also adding the locally produced “KFWB’s Sports Knight with Michael Knight” for the 10:00 pm to 12:00 midnight slot. Knight serves as an anchor with the station. KFWB general manager Valerie Blackburn says, “As the flagship station of the Los Angeles Clippers, we want to give our sports fans more of an opportunity to be part of the sports conversation. We continue to look for ways to give our listeners and clients the best possible programming options available.”
Local Group to Buy Five-Station Santa Rosa Cluster. The investors – Sonoma Media Group — is headed by former owner of the stations, Lawrence Amaturo, who sold the cluster in 2000 for almost $30 million. The price to re-acquire the stations from Connecticut-based Maverick Media is $4.5 million according to a piece in the Press-Democrat. The stations include news/talk KSRO, classic rock KVRV “The River,” CHR KHTH “Hot 101.7,” country KFGY “Froggy 92.9,” and hot AC KMHX “Mix 104.9.” Amaturo tells the paper, “The opportunity was irresistible. More than half of this community is listening to these stations each week…They’re more popular than when I sold them in 2000, but their revenue is down and their profit is down. I’m able to reinvest in these radio stations, in programming and promotion, which the current owners were not able to do. There was too much debt.” Amaturo says he has no plans to make changes to the stations and may consider bringing local programs that were recently cancelled back to the air.
IP Codecs, Transmitters, the Future of AM and other Cool Stuff. These are the topics addressed in this week’s column by TALKERS technical editor Tom Ray, inspired by his visit to the 2013 NAB Show in Las Vegas. According to Ray, “Just about everything I saw at the NAB was IP, IP, IP.” The engineering wizard also shares his seasoned insights into the revitalization of AM approaching the subject from angles ignored by most industry observers. On the subject of transmitters (yes, we still use them in radio), Ray says the trend is to deliver more in less space. Read the entire installment of the engineering column that “isn’t just for engineers because in today’s radio environment programmers and management have to worry about engineering a lot more than they used to” by clicking here.
Southern California Radio Writer Gary Lycan Dies at 68. The longtime Orange County Register radio columnist had been battling prostate cancer for the past several years and died in his sleep on Tuesday at age 68. Gary Lycan’s final column ran in the OC Register on Saturday. He began his career with the paper in 1962 as a copy boy and worked his way up to assistant managing editor for features – a post he held until he left his full-time position with the paper in 2002. Since that time and up to his death, he continued to write his radio column as a freelancer. It was widely regarded as a special window into the radio and media world for Southern California readers.
Dave Ramsey Enters the Hall of Fame. At the NAB Show Luncheon on Tuesday, nationally syndicated talk show host Dave Ramsey was inducted into the NAB Broadcasting Hall of Fame. He’s pictured here (r) with NAB chief executive officer Gordon Smith (l) accepting a commemorative plaque.
Gun Legislation Proposals, Immigration Overhaul Bill, North Korea Missile Threats, Mitch McConnell-Ashley Judd Case, and Obama’s Budget Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (4/10). The continuing efforts to pass gun legislation; the immigration overhaul bill offered by Senate Democrats; tension over North Korea’s missile threats; the controversy over the recording of Republican Senator Mitch McConnell’s Ashley Judd strategy; and President Obama’s fiscal 2014 budget were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.