A decimated radio business has triggered the fire sale of three radio stations to a former NFL linebacker who an insider says might take one of those stations out of music and into sports. John Lynch, who once played for the Pittsburgh Steelers, just finalized a deal for his company, Broadcast Company of the Americas, to take over 91X, Magic 92.5, and Z-90 from locally based Finest City Broadcasting. Finest City took over those stations four years ago for $110 million. Lynch/BCA got those stations by assuming $18 million in debt, meaning the three stations lost more than 83 percent of their value in four years.
All three are Mexican-licensed stations, which means Lynch/BCA will operate the three stations but won’t own them outright. Lynch already operates XX Sports Radio (1090 AM) and oldies station the Walrus (105.7 FM), which are Mexican-based stations owned by Mexican citizens.
Lynch played a role in local radio in the ’80s. As general manager/co-owner, Lynch switched 91X to a “cutting edge” alternative format in 1983 and a few years later made AM 690 one of the first all-sports stations in the country. Both moves proved to be successful. His group sold those stations in 1996.
Currently, Z-90 is the only local station focusing on the urban/hip-hop genre, and Magic 92.5 is unique with its R&B oldies. 91X competes with Rock 105.3 and 94/9 for the modern-rock fan.
At press time, Lynch had yet to announce officially the acquisition of these three stations. He did not return a request for comment.
What could temper Lynch’s decision on any potential format change is the sudden availability of Mikey Esparza, anchor of the long-running Mikey Show on Clear Channel–owned Rock 105.3. That station announced December 17 that Esparza was leaving to go to another station in town, suggesting that he was leaving for more money. Rock 105.3 then announced that, essentially, The Mikey Show would go on without Mikey and that his four sidekicks would continue to do the morning show without its former namesake. Insiders say Esparza was earning in the $500,000 range but that he was looking for a significant pay increase.
Several insiders say the days of bloated morning-show salaries are over. Jeff and Jer, local radio fixtures for 20 years, were rumored to be getting $3 million annually. When their contract with Clear Channel–owned Star 94.1 was up in August, Clear Channel offered them a significantly less lucrative contract to stay. They opted to walk, telling their listeners that they would be back on the air “in a month or two.” They are still off the air.