A Salt Lake City-based media company is re-entering the Valley with the acquisition of three radio stations from Emmis Communications Corp.
Emmis signed a letter of intent with Bonneville International Corp. to swap three of its Valley radio stations — KTAR (620 AM), KMVP (860 AM) and KKLT (98.7 FM) — in exchange for WLUP-FM (The Loop) in Chicago and $70 million in cash. Emmis plans to use the money to pay down its debt.
Bonneville first entered the Valley in the early 1990s by purchasing two radio stations, which were originally KMEO and KIDR.
It sold the two stations in mid-1997 to raise the cash to purchase WLUP, said Craig Haslam, the company’s director of public information.
“It was a good business move for us at the time, and right now this is a very good business strategy for us because it gets us back into a top 10 market with three stations and a couple of formats that we do very well,” he said.
No changes are planned in either format or personnel at the three stations, which are located under one roof in Phoenix, Haslam said. There are 95 full-time and part-time employees at the stations.
“We have an agreement with Emmis that they will keep and retain our employees at The Loop in Chicago and we’ll do the same with current employees there (in Phoenix),” he said. “These are very successful stations, so we hope we can just help them be even more successful.”
Emmis purchased KTAR, KMVP and KKLT from Hearst-Argyle Corp. in March 2001 for $160 million in cash and anticipates recording a pretax gain from the exchange of about $50 million when the transaction closes. For the 12 months ending Feb. 28, 2005, the three stations’ net revenue is projected to be about $29.8 million.
Emmis also owns KKFR (92.3 FM), which is a hip-hop/R&B station, and it plans to maintain ownership of that station, said Kate Healey, company spokeswoman.
“The goal is to own a second radio station in Chicago to complement the one we already have there, and this is an opportunity to do that,” she said.
Bonneville expects to take over programming KTAR, KMVP and KKLT in early December, and the transaction should be finalized in early 2005.
KTAR’s format is news-talk-sports, while KMVP is an ESPN affiliate and KKLT is an adult contemporary station.
“In terms of broadcasting, it’s a very competitive market, but with these properties we feel that we’re in a position where we can take some success that’s already been established by Emmis and apply our Bonneville touch to it,” Haslam said. “We’re confident we can be very successful.”