The Emmis CEO, who is selling the company’s only Los Angeles radio station for $83 million, said while it was painful, it was the right decision. “We’ll be more focused, we’ll have more flexibility, and we’ll be able to put more resources toward NextRadio. It was the best decision for our people and our listeners. It was the right decision.”
Despite those words, it was easy to tell on the Emmis earnings call that Smulyan is not thrilled with having to part with a station he has owned for 33 years. However, with iHeart coming hard into the format, stealing Emmis’ popular morning man, debt that needed to be addressed, and a flat-to-down revenue environment, Smulyan pulled the trigger and made the sale.
The sale of POWER in L.A. and the divestiture of WLIB in New York will reduce over 60% of Emmis’ debt. Smulyan says that will change the financial flexibility of the company, and that is critical. Emmis is in discussions with three potential buyers of WLIB in New York.