As Rumored, EMF Snags Two ‘Audacy Atlas’ FMs


Updated at 1:10pm Eastern

On March 15, rumors first surfaced that two FMs transferred by Audacy Corp. into a divestment portfolio would either be sold or traded as part of an effort to raise cash or perhaps consolidate operations in Buffalo. The potential buyer: Educational Media Foundation, which would land a marquee facility for its KLOVE Christian Contemporary Music format.

It turns out EMF has purchased not only the big FM serving Western New York and the most populous part of the Canadian province of Ontario but also an FM serving Memphis, Tenn.

With a 10% deposit being held in escrow at Truist Bank, the “Audacy Atlas” entity created by the company led by David Field as a home for non-essential assets primed for sale has agreed to part ways with grandfathered 110kw Class B WTSS-FM 102.5 in Buffalo and Class C2 WLFP-FM 94.1 in Germantown, Tenn.

The price: $15.5 million.

The valuation is perhaps emblematic of the stark differences between the broadcast radio industry and the broadcast television industry when it comes to how much a property is worth. Last week, as RBR+TVBR exclusively reported, WBBH-TV in Fort Myers, Fla., was sold for hundreds of millions of dollars in a deal industry observers believe is fair, as it included the real estate and a shared services agreement with WZVN-TV that also is linked with a purchase option. Given the revenue associated with the NBC and ABC affiliates in America’s fastest-growing market, the $220.45 million price tag was shock to some but not wholly out of the question for others.

For Audacy, the $15.5 million it is getting from EMF perhaps illustrates just how difficult it is for radio companies that seek buyers for prime properties to come to the table. That said, Hoffman Schutz Media Capital’s David Schutz tells RBR+TVBR that the population metric for Audacy’s sale of WLFP and WTSS “is a respectable $5.60/PP” based on the stations’ 60 dBu contours. “This is a somewhat higher metric than EMF usually pays,” Schutz says, noting that it is higher than the $3.39/PP that EMF paid Cumulus in 2019 in its $103.5 million blockbuster deal for six stations including WRQX in Washington, D.C., and WPLJ in New York.

WLFP is presently branded as “94.1 The Wolf” and airs a Country format. The station is ranked behind Cumulus Media-owned Country WGKX “Kix 106.” WLFP’s 50kw signal covers the entire Memphis market, and will join Class C3 WKVF-FM 94.9 in Bartlett, Tenn., with the latter station likely adopting the Air1 Network worship music format as WLFP embraces KLOVE. Air1 is presently offered on WKVF HD2 and via W244BY at 96.7 MHz, serving a small portion of Memphis.

Audacy is expected to retain the intellectual property of “The Wolf,” moving it to another facility in Memphis, where it owns Sports WMFS “92.9 ESPN,” along with  “Today’s Best Mix” WMC-FM, Sports wagering talker WMC-AM 790 “The Bet,” and WRVR-FM “The River,” and Adult Contemporary station. WMFS is likely to take on “The Wolf” as sports programming is consolidated at WMC-AM.

In Buffalo, WTSS, branded as “Star 102.5,” has long offered a Hot Adult Contemporary format to audiences on both sides of the U.S.-Canada border and from 1987-2000 was WMJQ. Before that, it was WBEN-FM. It has not only formidable coverage of Rochester, N.Y., to the east, but can easily be scanned up on expressways on the northern side of the Greater Toronto Area. For EMF, that brings KLOVE to Canada’s largest marketplace, albeit indirectly.

For “Star” listeners, the station’s programming and brand, and the longtime face of the station, Sue O’Neill, are expected to shift to another station in the Audacy Buffalo stable. But where? The stations Audacy is committed to include WKSE-FM “KISS,” the Top 40 station; News/Talk WBEN-AM 930; Sports Talk WGR-AM 550; and R&B Oldies WWWS-AM with an FM translator at 107.3 MHz. Country WLKK-FM 107.3 “The Wolf,” with a translator at 104.7 MHz, possesses a Construction Permit for auxiliary antenna engineer filed in February by Audacy; WLKK’s Wethersfield Township, N.Y., signal makes it a partial-market signal, with limited coverage making it difficult to reach Niagara Falls and Grand Island.

The Audacy sales are tied to the company’s current fiscal position, which sees shareholders at its annual meeting primed to vote on a reverse stock split necessary to retain NYSE compliance. Ahead of Monday’s Opening Bell on Wall Street, AUD was priced at $0.1120.

Correction: RBR+TVBR incorrectly reported in its first edition of this story that WLKK was transferred to “Audacy Atlas” and awaits a buyer. WLKK is licensed to Audacy Licensee and is presently not among the assets Audacy is selling.