Changing Channels: NYC Urban Radio Stations WBLS-FM & WLIB-AM Sold

February 13, 2014  |  

Two more urban radio stations are about to be gobbled up by a major corporation. Emmis Communications Corporation has finalized a deal with YMF Media to buy New York City’s famed WBLS 107.5 FM, the No. 2 station in the city, and its sister station, WLIB 1190 AM, which is the first African-American targeted station offering an urban gospel format. Emmis will pay $131 million in cash for the two formerly black-owned stations.

Emmis already owns WQHT, HOT 97 in New York. With these two more stations, Emmis will almost double its annual station operating income, reports Yahoo! News.

“Today’s announcement is indicative of our belief in the US radio industry and our desire to increase our footprint in the nation’s largest market,” said Jeff Smulyan, President and CEO of Emmis Communications in a press statement. “Emmis has deep ties to the New York African-American community, and it is with great pride we take the helm of these iconic stations.”

Emmis will pay in two installments; the first payment of about $55 million will be made following the initial grant of the FCC’s consent to the change in ownership. This is expected to happen during the summer.  The second payment of about $76 million will take place in February 2015.

Both WBLS and WLIB have been doing well. They reported approximately $31.9 million of net revenues and approximately $16.5 million of station operating expenses, equaling about $15.4 million in operating income.

How do you feel about one company owning three urban stations in one city?

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