CBS Radio announced Thursday it would trade its seven Charlotte radio stations to a Florida-based broadcaster as part of a consolidation of its portfolio into larger cities.
Included in the deal with Naples, Fla.-based Beasley Broadcast Group are three of Charlotte’s top-rated stations – WPEG-FM (“Power 98,” 97.9) and WBAV-FM (“V” 101.9), both of which dominate in the African-American audience, and WSOC-FM (103.7), one of the nation’s strongest country stations.
Also included in the deal are two AM sports stations, WFNZ-AM (“Fan” 610) and WBCN-AM (1660), pop music’s WNKS-FM (“Kiss” 95.1) and contemporary adult format WKQC-FM (“K” 104.7).
In trading its Charlotte cluster in national radio market No. 24, CBS Radio picks up two stations in market No. 8 Philadelphia and three in market No. 11 Miami. CBS has long signaled that it is interested in spinning off radio stations in its smaller cities in favor of stations in bigger urban areas.
“This transaction reinforces our strategy to concentrate on large market properties,” Dan Mason, president of CBS Radio, said in a statement. CBS owns TV stations in Philadelphia and Miami, creating sales synergy with the radio properties, he said.
CBS here for 17 years
CBS entered the Charlotte radio market in 1997 when it bought WPEG-FM, WSOC-FM and five other stations as part of a $2.6 billion deal to buy the national broadcast operations of American Radio Systems Corp. About 200 people, full- and part-time, work at the cluster’s studios on South Boulevard where the transfer was announced Thursday morning.
“Our main job is to serve the listeners, community and our advertisers,” said Bill Schoening, market manager for the Charlotte stations and a 32-year CBS Radio employee.
CBS’ Charlotte stations attract 32 percent of the local audience, according to the September Nielsen rankings. Competitors iHeartMedia (formerly Clear Channel) attracts 28 percent; Radio One 9 percent; and Greater Media 6 percent. CBS Radio reaps an estimated 40 percent of Charlotte’s radio advertising revenue.
No changes are expected in operations of the CBS Radio stations until the deal closes, probably by year’s end. Federal regulatory approval is necessary for the deal to go through.
Beasley’s Carolina connections
Overall, the deal between CBS and Beasley involves properties only and no cash, providing a favorable tax basis for both companies. Beasley gives up five stations in Philadelphia and Miami for 14 CBS stations in Charlotte, Tampa-St. Petersburg and one AM station in Philadelphia.
“We will expand our station base by nine stations and add completed clusters in Tampa and Charlotte which complement our already strong mid-Atlantic presence,” George G. Beasley, chairman of Beasley said in a statement. “Furthermore, the transaction is also consistent with our long-term strategy to operate leading clusters in large- and mid-size markets.”
Beasley, 81, grew up in a tobacco-farming family in rural Virginia and got undergraduate and master’s degrees in business from Appalachian State University in Boone. In 1961, he opened a small radio station in Benson and later bought a larger station in Goldsboro, eventually acquiring more than 40 stations from Boston to Las Vegas, including six stations in the Fayetteville area and six more in Eastern North Carolina.