Entercom, CBS look to unload Boston radio stations as part of merger
Entercom Communications Corp. and CBS Corp. are looking to unload a handful of big-name Boston radio stations as part of an ongoing merger.
Entercom refused to confirm what radio stations they would be divesting as part of the merger process, and CBS Radio through a statement declined to comment on Tuesday.
But someone with knowledge of the merger confirmed that CBS Radio is looking divest radio news giant 1030 WBZ, 98.5 The Sports Hub, and classic rock staple 100.7 WZLX, while Entercom is proposing to divest talk radio mainstay 680 WRKO and the R&B station 97.7 WKAF.
In the radio industry, divesting a station could refer to a straight sale of the station, swapping one station for another, or some combination thereof. The Federal Communications Commission has to approve such moves. That commission has yet to rule on Entercom and CBS Radio’s plans.
Entercom confirmed that it filed amendments with the FCC on Tuesday as the company’s next step in the merger with CBS Radio.
“The amended FCC filings mark another step forward in the process to complete our combination with CBS Radio and we remain on track to close the transaction later this year,” said Entercom spokeswoman Esther-Mireya Tejeda in an e-mail. “Given the ongoing regulatory review, we are unable to comment further at this time.”
In an internal CBS memo released on Tuesday, the company said 11 radio stations in San Francisco, Boston, Seattle, and Sacramento are being proposed to be divested as part of the merger.
“Today, Entercom and CBS RADIO have taken another important step in finalizing the merger of our two companies,” the memo stated. “A number of regulatory filings were made in connection with the merger transaction.”
WBZ Radio reported news of the planned divesture on its newscast Tuesday evening.
Michael Felger, the afternoon drive co-host on 98.5 The Sports Hub, acknowledged the news on the air Tuesday.
“As part of the merger between Entercom and CBS Radio, the company is going to have to divest some radio stations,” said Felger. “For various reasons that are above my pay grade. Legal reasons, antitrust reasons, etc. FCC reasons. They can’t keep all the stations. So they have to peddle some of the stations. I say peddle with all the love and respect in my heart.”
He added, “Make no mistake, this is a powerful little group of stations.”
In February, the merger between Entercom and CBS Radio was announced. The merger was expected to shake up the Boston radio market.
The deal also meant the new entity, which would operate under the Entercom name and would be based in Philadelphia, would have two more stations than the FCC limit for the Boston market.
In February the Entercom chief executive David J. Field said the company would move quickly “to make the required divestures.”
Tuesday’s news means that two rivals — WEEI and 98.5 The Sports Hub — may not be headed for the same ownership after all.
In a nod to the fact that the merger could have made the Sports Hub a sister station of its chief competitor, WEEI, Felger on Tuesday referenced a rival host, joking that, “I was looking forward to once again shining Glenn Ordway’s shoes . . . but that won’t be happening.”