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Hubbard Broadcasting to buy Bonneville International radio outlets

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Bonneville International on Wednesday said it has entered into an agreement to sell its three Chicago radio stations -- WTMX-FM (101.9), WDRV-FM (97.1) and WILV-FM (100.3) -- to Minneapolis-based Hubbard Broadcasting Co. Hubbard also is buying Bonneville stations in Washington, D.C., St. Louis and Cincinnati. Altogether Hubbard is acquiring 17 Bonneville stations for $505 million in cash. The deal is expected to close in May.

As part of the deal, Salt Lake City-based Bonneville's two top radio executives, CEO Bruce Reese and chief operating officer Drew Horowitz will join the radio management team at Hubbard, which currently operates just four radio stations in Minneapolis,in addition to 12 television stations in Minnesota, New York and New Mexico. Chicago-based Greg Solk, who had overseen programming for Bonneville's chain of radio stations, also will become the senior vice-president of programming for Hubbard's expanded roster of radio outlets.

Hubbard said it does not plan to make any changes in personnel or programming at any of the stations it is acquiring after the deal closes.

The deal gives Hubbard in one fell swoop three of Chicago's top performing radio stations. All three are regularly among the Chicago market's top 10 outlets in the key 25 to 54-year-old demo in the monthly Arbitron rating books. Hubbard also is getting the city's consistently top-ranked morning drive show with Eric Ferguson and Kathy Hart on WTMX.

Sources say the price tag Hubbard is paying seems surprisingly low, given the quality of several of the Chicago stations Hubbard is acquiring. Bonneville, however, apparently liked the offer. One source called it a deal Bonneville couldn't refuse. Bonneville is a unit of Deseret Management Corp., a for-profit arm of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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Lewis Lazare has written the Media Mix column for the Chicago Sun-Times for the past seven and a half years.

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This page contains a single entry by Lewis Lazare published on January 19, 2011 12:33 PM.

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