Poor 3rd Quarter Earnings, Emmis Communications Sell’s Four St. Louis Radio Stations

ST. LOUIS, MO – Emmis Communications is selling all four of its St. Louis area radio stations — including legacy rock station KSHE95 — to companies that already own stations in the market.

Indianapolis-based Emmis is selling KSHE (94.7 FM) and alternative-rock KPNT (105.7 FM) to Hubbard Radio, according to a regulatory filing.

The filing also states Emmis is selling conservative talk station KFTK (97.1 FM) and adult-hits station KNOU (96.3 FM) to Entercom Communications.

Financial terms were not disclosed. The sales are subject to the completion and execution of definitive purchase agreements, according to the regulatory filing. An Emmis spokeswoman declined to comment on the sales.

John Beck, who has been the general manager for the Emmis stations since they entered the St. Louis market in 1984 when the company bought KSHE from Century Broadcasting, said many details had yet to be worked out.

Emmis’ four St. Louis stations have about 120 full/part-time employees. Beck said no decisions about employees and the future of the company’s downtown offices at 401 South 18th Street have been made.

This transaction is the third significant sale that Emmis has conducted in a year, according to trade publication InsideRadio. In January 2017, the company finalized the sale of three radio stations in Terre Haute, Ind., and then in May agreed to sell a Los Angeles hip-hop station.

Jeff Smulyan, Emmis’ chief executive officer and chairman, said this month that the company’s third-quarter earnings, for the period ending Nov. 30, were “disappointing.”

The third-quarter earnings report showed that the company’s net radio revenue for the quarter totaled $34 million, compared to $42.5 million for the same period in 2016.

In a conference call with analysts on Jan. 11, Smulyan noted that the St. Louis cluster of stations remained strong, saying there was “nothing great about the performance of our markets. St. Louis was our only market to outperform” projections.

Emmis’ stock rose more than 6 percent Tuesday, closing at $3.30 a share.

St. Paul, Minn.-based Hubbard already has a presence in the St. Louis area: it owns WARH (106.5 FM), WIL (92.3 FM) and WXOS (101.1 FM).

In St. Louis, Entercom, based in Bala Cynwyd, Pa., owns KEZK (102.5 FM), KMOX (1120 AM) and KYKY (98.1 FM).

KSHE’s history holds national significance in that it created an official radio genre: AOR (album-oriented rock) that is now called “classic rock.”

In 1967, KSHE general manager Sheldon “Shelley” Grafman was stuck with a money-losing station on the little-used FM band. The station played easy-listening music aimed at middle-aged women (hence the “SHE” in the call letters.)

Grafman decided to tap into the growing taste among young Americans for harder, louder rock that didn’t fit into pop radio’s four-minutes-maximum maxim.

So, on Nov. 7, 1967, the station played “White Rabbit” by Jefferson Airplane and “real rock radio” was born.

Category: General News