Radio Industry Leader, Auto Dealer Scott Ginsburg Dies


In 1983, he first gained national recognition for his purchase of WCFL-AM 1000 in Chicago. The $8 million acquisition from Mutual by Statewide Broadcasting brought a big-market property to a group of stations comprised of WAPE-AM & FM/Jacksonville, an AM in the Miami market, and two properties in Tallahassee, Fla.

From there, Scott K. Ginsburg would enjoy a prolific career in the radio industry, which came to an end in 1998 with the sale of Chancellor Broadcasting. Ginsburg would then launch a Dallas-area luxury automobile dealership distinguished by bringing Porsche to Plano, Tex.

RBR+TVBR has now confirmed the passing of Ginsburg, who died “very peacefully” on May 26. He was 71 years of age.

Ginsburg’s time as a radio station owner came after earning his J.D. from Georgetown Law School, in 1978. He’d give back to his alma mater in significant ways, with the Scott K. Ginsburg Sport & Fitness Center at Georgetown Law dedicated in 2015 and a $10.5 million donation made in March 2019 to the school in order to grow its law center space.

Three years after graduation from Georgetown Law School, Ginsburg began his career on Capitol Hill, working for U.S. Congressman John C. Culver and U.S. Senator Dick Clark, both of Iowa. After serving as staff director and general counsel of the U.S. Senate’s Labor Subcommittee on Employment, Poverty and Migratory Labor, he embarked on a career in the radio broadcasting industry.

By the end of 1986, Statewide Broadcasting’s properties would include not only WCFL but also the Jacksonville duo, the Miami AM and KHYI “Y95” in Dallas. Those properties were enticing enough for Cecil Heftel to agree in January 1987 to a merger of his Heftel Broadcasting with Statewide, creating H&G Communications. Heftel’s stations included KTNQ-AM & KLVE-FM in Los Angeles, WLUP-FM in Chicago, and KSSK in Honolulu. Ginsburg would serve as EVP/COO of the newly created company.

One year later, Heftel and Ginsburg were at odds; corporate debt had become overwhelming. The result was a $76 million corporate “depooling” of the company’s resources that Ginsburg told Radio & Records presented “an opportunity to take these radio stations forward.”

Ginsburg’s words proved to be true. By September 1988, Evergreen Media was alive and well, with ownership of WLUP-FM in Chicago along with the original Statewide assets its foundation. The first deal as Evergreen: a $24 million acquisition of WAXY-FM 105.9 in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale market from troubled RKO General.

Evergreen Media would further add to its station stable. In February 1993, it agreed to the $51 million purchase of KTRH-AM & KLOL-FM in Houston from Rusk Corporation. This came after it agreed to buy KMEL-FM in San Francisco. On May 11, 1993, an initial public offering (IPO) of stock came for Evergreen, a portend of the 1990s push by radio companies to begin trading on Wall Street.

Ginsburg’s radio career pinnacle perhaps came in February 1997. That’s when Tom Hicks-controlled Chancellor Broadcasting Company agreed to merge with Evergreen and then purchase 10 stations from Viacom International in a $1.075 billion transaction that created Chancellor Media Corporation, then the nation’s largest radio broadcasting company. Ginsburg would become CEO.

Evergreen President/COO Jim de Castro served as a co-COO of Chancellor Media. Speaking by phone on May 31 to RBR+TVBR, he said of Ginsburg, “He was a visionary. He was brilliant. And he was in charge of one of the companies that would become a part of iHeartMedia.”

De Castro added that Ginsburg’s family has opted to keep his passing a largely private matter, with a service scheduled for June 2 in the Dallas area.

In the April 10, 1998 R&R Publisher’s Profile by Erica Farber, Ginsburg was asked what his hobbies were. He replied, “Fast cars. I have a passion for street racing with little German cars. I’ve been known to have a rather fast boat. I have a Fountain with 2400 HP in the back. A 47 -ft. boat that will do 95 mph in the water, and when you’re done, you can go down in air- conditioned comfort and cool out on the lake. Motorcycles – BMW and Harleys.”

One week later, a shake-up at Chancellor resulted in Ginsburg’s exit. He capitalized on that passion by establishing a Porsche dealership in fast-growing Plano, Tex., serving as the anchor of his Boardwalk Auto Group.

Concurrently, Ginsburg would become Chairman/CEO of digital media distribution services provider DG Systems, which in late 2005 would merge with privately held competitor FastChannel Network Inc. in a $36 million deal.

Ginsburg’s career included one blemish: In July 2002 he was fined $1 million for alleged insider trading, as a federal court found he violated securities law by providing information about EZ Communications and Katz Media Group to his brother and father, who reportedly profited from the information.

Scott Ginsburg was a 1974 graduate of The George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and holds a B.A. in Political Science and Government.

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