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Airwaves: February 10, 2006


It's official: Citadel Broadcasting has agreed to purchase the majority of ABC Radio -- stations and the network -- for a cool $2.7 billion.

All those jokes about ABC stations being "Mickey Mouse" are out the window. While it's officially being called a merger, the combined company includes only the former Disney radio assets and Citadel, and the company will take on the Citadel Communications name.

It's being worked this way so that Disney can eventually spin off or split off the stock and allow Disney shareholders -- who will own approximately 52 percent of the new company -- to avoid any taxes.

Included in the deal are 24 stations and the ABC Radio Networks, which means that KLOS and KABC will soon be mouse-free. Not included are ABC-owned Radio Disney and ESPN stations, meaning that KDIS and KSPN will stay in the Disney fold. Both of Radio Disney's and ESPN Radio's listeners breathed a sigh of relief when they heard their stations will continue ...

The included ABC Radio Networks provide programming to approximately 4000 affiliates, and features such shows as Sean Hannity, the legendary Paul Harvey News and Comment, and some full-time music formats.

Citadel, which until now has focussed mostly on medium-sized markets, suddenly finds itself a big player in the majors with stations in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington and San Francisco. All told, once the merger is approved, they will be the third-largest broadcast company in the United States with 243 radio stations in 50 markets.

What will happen to KABC and KLOS? Hard to say, since Citadel has no experience with large market stations. Both stations have long histories and have had few changes over the years -- KABC has been talk since talk radio began and KLOS is still playing the same music it has since album-rock radio began. Major changes will no doubt be met with backlash from listeners and advertisers.

In A Related Note

Anaheim Angels owner Arte Moreno is is buying KMXE from RadioVisa. The selling price is estimated to be $42 million. Moreno plans to add Spanish-language broadcasts of Angels baseball games as he and his partnership transition the station to a bilingual (English/Spanish) format. Spanish broadcasts of Galaxy and Chivas USA soccer games will continue, as will Spanish USC games and NASCAR coverage.

The Angels, of course, were also once owned by Disney.

Williams Must Go

I admit that while I enjoy listening to new (or at least newer) music on Sirius Satellite Radio's The Pulse, I tend to spend at least a little time each day -- or maybe a lot of time each day -- tuned to Totally '70s.

And as long as Barry Williams, aka Greg Brady of television's The Brady Bunch, is not on the air, I'm generally happy. But it seems every time I tune in lately ... he's there. Like a cockroach waiting in the shadows.

He's awful. Really awful. Well, if he improved he'd be awful. He was fine as Greg, but put him in front of a radio microphone and he stumbles, makes jokes that could be corny if they were told right, and in general proves that he was a far better actor than he is a DJ.

Come on, Sirius ... XM gets Bobby Ocean and we get Greg Brady? What are you thinking?


Copyright © 2006 Richard Wagoner and The Copley Press.

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