Tuesday, May 30, 2017

DC Radio: Red Zebra Guts Sports Network Of Stations

Over the last couple of months, Red Zebra has systematically dismantled its network of local radio stations. The Washington City Paper reports, Radio One bought WWXT 92.7 FM and WXGI 950 AM in April. Then, a couple of weeks ago, the Educational Media Foundation bought WWXX. Finally, a conglomerate called AM 570 LLC, which is affiliated with Christian-themed Salem Media Group, bought WSPZ 570 AM last week.

The two FM stations simulcast ESPN 980’s content on the clearer FM band with much more reach than the flagship WTEM 980 AM has ever shown. Those are gone now.

And 570 served as a complementary channel to ESPN 980, airing more of the sport network’s national programming (which cleared the way for 980 to lean hard local) as well as the live games and associated programming for teams that could be considered second-tier to the D.C. market, notably the Baltimore Orioles for Major League Baseball and the Virginia Cavaliers for NCAA football. That’s gone now.

Red Zebra’s foothold in Richmond was 950, which will continue to broadcast sports content under its Radio One ownership.

All that’s left in the immediate D.C. area is the flagship 980, and there are persistent rumors and reports that it too may be sold off.

WTEM 980 AM (50 Kw-D, 5 Kw-N, DA2)
And it looks to be a financial train wreck for Red Zebra too. Snyder’s company bought the two FM stations, along with 730 AM, back in 2005 for some $33 million, according to Billboard magazine. After a few years of complaints about weak signals, Red Zebra added 980, 570, and 1260 AM for another reported $24.5 million—an estimated total outlay of nearly $58 million.

Five years later, the company sold 730 and 1260 for a reported $4.6 million. This year’s sales TOTAL $4.35 million.

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