In all likelihood, radio’s two biggest players will not be participating in what will probably be the sell-off of some of radio’s best radio stations and brands. With debt and revenue issues facing iHeartMedia and Cumulus, most of the financial experts we spoke to Tuesday believe those two companies will not be involved in any CBS deals. And, as Media Services Group broker Bob Heymann tells Radio Ink, in all likelihood, it will not be one buyer, they will be sold as market clusters. So who are possible buyers? Let the speculation begin.
Connoisseur Media CEO Jeff Warshaw says he’s interested. With 42 stations in 12 markets, including a strong presence in the “Golden Ring” around New York City, you have to wonder if both the Hartford and New York City markets are especially interesting to Warshaw. However, he tells Radio Ink he’s interested in looking at all of CBS Radio. You may also remember that, less than a year ago, Connoisseur announced Petrus Holding Company, a Perot Company, had made an investment in the company.
Larry Wilson has certainly been an active buyer over the past few years. And he certainly has experience in the major markets from his Citadel days. However, with the ink still drying from the prolonged closing of the Digity deal, you have to wonder if it’s a tad too early for Wilson to be buying again so soon. Wilson was recently named Radio Ink’s Radio Executive of The Year, and in our January 18 cover story interview Wilson said, back then, before these CBS properties officially went on the block, “We want to take a little bit of a breather here and do some things operationally.”
What about Greater Media? Just last month, as the company celebrated 60 years in business, CEO Peter Smyth told Radio Ink he wanted the dust to settle a little bit but he did not close the door to growing the company. “The important thing for us is to be strategic and opportunistic at the right prices. If the assets are at the right prices, it’s going to make sense to us. The last thing you want is to do a bad deal in a lousy market. I don’t want to do that. I want to protect the balance sheet and protect the company.” Greater Media owns 21 stations in Boston, Charlotte, Detroit, Philadelphia, and New Jersey.
Several brokers we spoke with Tuesday told us we should also keep an eye on Hubbard.