Randy Michaels Partners With Emmis; Merlin Media To Run WRXP, WKQX And WLUP In Deal Worth Over $110 Million
Merlin Media Appoints John Gehron Chairman/Advisory Board And Liz Aiello As Vice President New York; Q101 Format Flip?
June 21, 2011 at 1:39 PM (PT)
EMMIS COMMUNICATIONS has reached a definitive agreement to transfer Alternative WKQX (Q101) and Classic Rock WLUP (THE LOOP) CHICAGO and Alternative WRXP/NEW YORK to MERLIN MEDIA LLC, a controlling interest of which will be acquired by CHICAGO-based private equity firm GTCR and RANDY MICHAELS. EMMIS will own a significant minority stake.
According to an SEC filing, "Under the Purchase Agreement, EMMIS may elect at closing to receive aggregate cash proceeds in the transaction of between $110 million and $130 million. Upon consummation of the transaction, EMMIS will retain equity interests in MERLIN MEDIA, the level of which will depend on the aggregate amount of cash proceeds EMMIS elects to receive."
"While it is always difficult to part with stations that have been valuable contributors to our company, we believe that today's transaction will create significant value for our shareholders," said EMMIS Chairman/CEO JEFF SMULYAN. "As a significant minority partner in MERLIN MEDIA, we're delighted to remain engaged with these markets and stations in the exciting days ahead."
"We are extremely excited about the opportunity to partner with EMMIS and RANDY," said GTCR Principal PHILIP A. CANFIELD. "Emmis CEO, JEFF SMULYAN, and RANDY MICHAELS are both proven veterans of the media industry and we look forward to working with them to provide valuable media content to MERLIN MEDIA's future consumers."
MERLIN will pay EMMIS $200,000 per month as part of an LMA. In the SEC filing, EMMIS noted, "MERLIN MEDIA and affiliates of EMMIS entered into a Local Programming and Marketing Agreement pursuant to which LMA MERLIN will commence providing programming and selling advertising at the stations held by MERLIN MEDIA within 45 days from the signing date, pending satisfaction of closing conditions including regulatory approvals for closing under the Purchase Agreement. EMMIS will retain ownership of the stations during the term of the Local Marketing Agreement and will receive a fee from LMA MERLIN of $200,000 per month."
Now wonderers are wondering, how long before SMULYAN deals LOS ANGELES standalone Top 40/Rhythmic KPWR (POWER 106) to MERLIN MEDIA?
Newly Created Merlin Media Appoints John Gehron As Chairman Advisory Board And Liz Aiello As VP/New York
MERLIN MEDIA moves quickly and adds radio executive JOHN GEHRON as Chairman, Advisory Board, and LIZ AIELLO, former SVP/Broadcast at MARTHA STEWART LIVING OMNIMEDIA, as VP/NEW YORK.
"I was lucky enough to recruit JOHN to run the CHICAGO cluster during my time at CLEAR CHANNEL and I am thrilled to be working with him again now," said MERLIN MEDIA Chairman/CEO RANDY MICHAELS. "At MERLIN MEDIA, we aren't building a broadcast company, but a multimedia, multi-platform company. LIZ has deep experience in radio, television, satellite, cable and interactive, and her intelligence and extensive contacts in NEW YORK will be the perfect addition to our new company. We are pleased to welcome them both, and the unique strengths they bring with them, to the MERLIN MEDIA team."
"I am looking forward to contributing to MERLIN MEDIA's success in the CHICAGO area. With two of our three founding stations here, CHICAGO will be central to building our brand and leveraging our industry expertise for the success of this new venture," said GEHRON. "After nearly four decades in radio, I've been privileged to watch the medium grow and thrive. Now, with MERLIN MEDIA, I'm excited to be part of another important twist in the evolution of our industry."
AIELLO added, "MERLIN MEDIA has brought together the best talent in radio broadcasting with experts in business-building. This unique opportunity to craft something new in such an established industry is an exciting challenge I look forward to meeting head-on."
Is A Format Change Coming To Q101?
TIME OUT CHICAGO's ROBERT FEDER is reporting that Q101 will flip from Alternative to News after the sales closes in the next 45 days.