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Airwaves: April 30, 2010

Trying to Take Emmis Private

Emmis Communications CEO Jeff Smulyan likes his company so much, he wants to buy it.

In an era when radio station ad revenues are stagnant and growth potential is questionable, radio stocks are being hit hard. This has been happening for a while now in radio -- and many other “old line media” companies including newspapers, magazines and television, as well.

The response from station group owners in many cases seems to be bankruptcy or going private. You may recall that the largest radio group in the world, Clear Channel Communications, recently went private in a leveraged buyout that took months to move forward and is still under fire from some investors.

This is a bit different, though the reason is the same: to get out from under shareholder pressure. What makes Emmis different from Clear Channel is that Smulyan wants to just buy outstanding shares ... no leverage needed. No outside banks needed.

Not that there won’t be protests from current shareholders. Those always happen, even if the reason is just to get a better deal. Nor is the offer -- a 74 percent premium over the 30-day average closing price -- a done deal. Smulyan has tried unsuccessfully to take Emmis private in the past.

To its credit, Emmis resisted the buying binge of the 1980s and ‘90s, and thus is in good shape financially. Unlike Clear Channel or Citadel, for example, Emmis is not laden with debt from station purchases and company mergers. Smulyan has been with Emmis forever and tends to play it safe, financially. In other words, Smulyan may want to go private, but he certainly doesn’t have to do so. This will be an interesting one to watch.

Locally, Emmis owns Power 106

Mail Bag

Q: Can you tell me where Marc Germain is now? Someone said he was back on the radio. Also, what about Lee Klein? Thanks. -- Evelyn, Roland Heights

A: You heard right. Sort of. Germain, formerly known as Mr. KFI, Mr. KABC and eventually just Mr. K, can be heard Saturday nights/Sunday mornings as the host of Red Eye Radio, carried locally by KABC (790 AM) in Los Angeles and KSPA (1510 AM) in the Inland Empire. Problem is, neither station carries the weekend edition of the show.

You can, however, hear Germain’s internet show. Point your browser to and you can download podcasts of his shows or “tune in” live weeknights from 8 to 10 PM.

As to Lee Klein, he is back doing some work on a relatively random basis at KABC.

Q: I have been a radio fan since my early teenage days back in the 1950s. I still enjoy keeping up with what’s happening in Southern California radio.

I grew up listening to KFXM in San Bernardino. I was thrilled when it was reborn in the Lancaster area a few years ago, then finally on the internet at I swear they have the largest oldies playlist in radio, including some songs I have not heard since the original KFXM played them decades ago. If you are interested in a special oldies station with an emphasis on Southern California oldies, is the place! -- Ray Keith, San Bernardino

A: Good call! My wife, Jean, grew up in Redlands, and told me she used to listen to KFXM as well. One of the things that gets lost in oldies radio is regionally. For example, Gloria by Them was the popular version here; the same song by the Shadows of Knight was popular on the East Coast.

But you have me thinking ... I think it is time for a roundup of online “radio” stations. This will probably be an ongoing feature, considering how many are around. If you (or anyone else) have any other suggestions, send them over. I’ll start next week.


Copyright © 2010 Richard Wagoner and Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

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