New York.- (GreekNewsOnline)
Cumulus Media has announced it is selling WABC-AM in New York City to Red Apple Media, a subsidiary of Red Apple Group, for $12.5 million in cash. The deal is expected to close in 60 days.
Red Apple CEO John Catsimatidis said, “I am very pleased that Red Apple Media Inc. has agreed to acquire 77 WABC (AM) Radio. The station is a real New York legend with a rich history in broadcasting. I started a radio show five years ago which is now available in 14 states and on the Internet. It has gained a large and loyal audience. Our purchase of 77 WABC (AM) Radio is the next step in building a new broadcasting business, and we look forward to considering the acquisition of more broadcasting assets. We plan to retain the excellent staff and talent working at the station now and look forward to working with them.”
It’s the first radio acquisition for the deep-pocketed company, where Chairman John Catsimatidis has ambitious plans to improve the property.
A native New Yorker, Catsimatidis grew up listening to the once-legendary Top 40 AM. Now he tells Inside Radio he looks forward to “getting the numbers back up to the top five.” WABC ranked 24th with a 1.0 share (6+) in Nielsen’s May survey.
Explaining how the deal came together, the gregarious Catsimatidis says he was approached by a friend who knew about the station’s availability. “They knew I do crazy things and I just write checks,” he says.
Handing $12.5 million to Cumulus isn’t going to break the bank for parent company Red Apple Group, a privately held New York-based company valued between $5 – 6 billion. It started 40 years ago by launching Red Apple Supermarkets and has evolved into a diversified corporation with holdings in the energy, aviation, retail and real estate sectors, with 8,000 employees, including 2,000 in New York City.
No stranger to radio, Catsimatidis launched “The Cats Roundtable” show in 2014. The one-hour Sunday morning program features a series of short, one-on-one interviews with guests from the worlds of politics, business, health and science. It airs on nine stations across the Northeast, including Salem’s talk “The Answer” outlets WNYM New York, WWRC Washington and WNTP Philadelphia.
Catsimatidis says he likes the current WABC team and plans to work with them on “running a great station, running great shows and making it succeed. We want to get the truth out,” he says. “I don’t care if it’s Republican or Democrat, as long as it’s the truth.”
Under a motto of “have checkbook, will travel,” Catsimatidis says the WABC purchase is the “next step” in building a new broadcasting business. “If it’s the right deal, we’ll write a check. I don’t have to worry about borrowing money.”
That $12.5 million check he’s writing to Cumulus amounts to a per population figure of 79 cents per person, based on a 5 millivolt contour, or 66 cents using a 2 millivolt formula, according to Bob Heymann from the Chicago office of the Media Services Group brokerage.
The sale leaves Cumulus with only one station in the New York market –“Radio 103.9” WNBM, an urban AC licensed to Bronxville, NY. Cumulus earlier sold hot AC WPLJ to Educational Media Foundation and traded country WNSH to Entercom. “We do expect to sell WNBM and exit the New York City market,” CEO Mary Berner said in a memo to employees about the WABC sale.