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Posts Tagged ‘Jeff Smulyan’

Sexism Struggles for WFAN’s First Voice, Suzyn Waldman: They Were ‘Terrible to Me’

America’s first, all-sports radio station–WFAN–had its first, full-blown workout on July 1, 1987 at the stroke of 3 p.m., and at 1050 on the AM dial. Not so incidental is the fact that Suzyn Waldman was the first talent to grace its airwaves.

“I was sitting in my place in the studio, and you could see into the control room, which was all glass.” Waldman recalls. “And the people from WHN were standing there … holding hands, and people were crying. I was very aware that when my voice hit the airwaves, WHN would cease to exist.”

She provided updates that inaugural afternoon for Jim Lampley‘s show.

For the next 14 years, she was heard constantly at the ballpark or in-studio, as host (two years in midday with Jody McDonald) or reporter.

But beneath the surface, right from the beginning, it was not the greatest time of her career. The primary reason was sexism.

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The Chernoff Chronicles: Celebrating 25 Years of WFAN

The nation’s first all-sports radio station is about to celebrate 25 years, and FishbowlNY is joining in the accolades.

Beginning today, we start a special, week-long series commemorating WFAN’s silver milestone July 1.

There are interviews with two charter members of the station, the first person on the air, and the signature voice a quarter-century later.

But we begin with a look back through the eyes of operations manager Mark Chernoff, who joined WFAN in 1993.

WHN owned the frequency at 1050 when Emmis suits, led by Jeff Smulyan, decided country music had run its course.

Smulyan, sales manager Joel Hollander, and others flipped the battle-tested country format in 1987 to sports. It was a mixed blessing, as WFAN was an untouched canvas on the radio easel.

“Its earliest incarnation was very different from what the ‘FAN eventually became,” Chernoff says.

Specifically, the programs were national in flavor, with many short-form features interspered within the shows. Original programming also consisted of 4 sports updates per hour, as opposed to today’s “20-20″ version. The Mets and WFAN have been perfect together since the station’s inception.

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Emmis Emerges from Six and a Half Years of Transformation, Says Jeff Smulyan

The company logo could have been a person tightening his belt. Emmis Communications has completed a 6 1/2 year transformation. Jeff Smulyan, the Indianapolis-based chairman of the board, said in the conference call yesterday that Emmis is moving forward with a group of stations in secondary markets such as St. Louis, Austin, and Terre Haute. He also mentioned New York’s lone wolf–Hot 97/WQHT.

Emmis is down to one radio destination in the biggest market. Last year, Emmis sold off Rocker WRXP to new Merlin Media, which created FM News/WEMP.

More recently, Emmis was at the center of another radio surprise, leasing 98.7, the former KISS FM home, to ESPN/Disney.

In the two deals last month, Emmis stands to pocket $92.5 million, according to the Indianapolis Business Journal. Despite the sadness loyal fans felt about their beloved KISS leaving the air, with several personalities and shows shifted to WBLS, the news sent Emmis stock soaring 21.5 percent, to $1.05 cents per share. It was the first time Emmis shares had traded above $1 since July.

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Emmis Unloads WRXP to Randy Michaels’ Merlin Media

It’s been several months in the making. This morning, Emmis has sold WRXP. 

Two other stations (WLUP and WKQX) are part of the portfolio acquired by Randy Michaels and GTCR, a Chicago based investment firm.

Michaels bought the trio of stations under the name Merlin Media. Emmis retains minority stake in the radio stations.

Merlin Media has 45 days to file the paperwork and complete the acquistion.

Radioinsight.com says, once approved, expect WRXP to flip from Modern Rocker to a News/ Talker.   

Update: Statement from Jeff Smulyan, Emmis chairman and CEO

“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 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.”

Emmis Sees Ad Rates Rise, NY Stations Still Underachieve

Emmis Communications, which in recent months attempted a buyout by owner Jeff Smulyan, is seeing revenue on the increase at its radio stations.

Radio-info.com reports the domestic revenues improved from $41.7 million for the fiscal quarter ended in November 2009 to nearly $44.9 million.

Despite the good news, the report indicates Emmis’ New York radio triumvirate is slightly underperforming.

As we reported in November, Emmis may put Alternative Rocker WRXP up for sale.

In the most recent Arbitron PPM ratings, ‘RXP held steady at a 2.1.

Emmis Could Be Faced with Selling Off N.Y. Station: SEC

Emmis Communications has been down this rocky road before. In the latest filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission released this week, Emmis points to the possibility of selling assets to stay above water fiscally.

“We have one station in New York City and two stations in Chicago where we believe the sale value could exceed the prospects for cash flow generation as part of our portfolio,” the filing with the SEC says.

It goes on to say that Emmis is “optimistic about the growth potential for these stations.”

However, “as the market for buying and selling radio stations improves, we may from time to time explore sales of one or more of these stations as a means of maintaining compliance with certain covenants in our senior credit facility.”

It’s not the first time that Emmis has echoed these sentiments. They first told the SEC several quarters ago that selling part of the portfolio could happen.  Read more