Emmis has announced a deal to sell its 50.1% controlling interest in its six-station Austin radio cluster to Sinclair Telecable, which currently owns 49.9% of the cluster. Sinclair Telecable will pay $39.3 million for Emmis’ stake, giving it 100% ownership of the stations and two FM translators, and marking Emmis’ exit from Austin. Sinclair Telecable which is not affiliated with KEYE-TV Austin licensee Sinclair Broadcast Group, is headed by Bob and David Sinclair, who have owned radio stations in Austin since 1995. The company also owns 7 FM, 2 AM, and 2 FM translators in Norfolk, VA and in California’s Sonoma County wine country.
The Austin radio cluster includes a total of eight station brands: talk KLBJ (590), rock KLBJ-FM (93.7), adult hits “Bob FM” KBPA-FM, regional Mexican “La Zeta” KLZT-FM, alternative “101X” KROX, adult alternative “Austin City Limits Radio’ KGSR-FM, along with “Star 93.3” and “Latino 102.7,” which both air on HD Radio-fed FM translators.
The Austin cluster will be rebranded as Waterloo Media.
"It's been a fabulous run in Austin, operating in one of America's best radio markets with such a special team and winning culture," Emmis Chairman and CEO Jeff Smulyan said in a news release. "I can't say enough great things about the performance of our incredible team in Austin.”
With the latest market sale, Emmis will operate radio stations only in New York and its home market of Indianapolis. “Our focus at Emmis now will be on transitioning to new areas of growth,” Smulyan added. “I'm thrilled to say we didn't need to look far to find a committed, well-known buyer who feels the same way about the Austin team. The Sinclairs have been great partners and will undoubtedly take the operation to new heights."
Emmis and Sinclair have been partners since Emmis purchased its controlling interest in the Austin stations in July 2003.
In a statement, Bob Sinclair said he and David Sinclair echo Smulyan’s sentiments about the “absolute excellence” of the staff in Austin, including VP/Market Manager Scott Gillmore, VP of Sales Bruce Walden, and VP of Programming Chase Rupe, as well as its sales department, on-air personalities and support staff. “The fact that the vast majority of our employees have been with the radio stations for many years is a credit to Jeff, his management team, and reputation that Emmis has had for decades,” Bob Sinclair said. “David and I are 100% committed to continuing the great community service that these stations have provided since their inception.”
The Sinclairs were initially partners with Luci Baines Johnson and the LBJ Holding Co. before Emmis bought its controlling stake in 2003. “I live in Austin and we look forward to many more years serving the Austin community and of course providing great advertising opportunities to businesses in this dynamic market,” Sinclair added.