Price of Boston AMs

Karen McTrotsky
Mon Jun 15 18:20:17 EDT 2015

Okay, we'll deal with the sales of WHDH radio and its successors. But if
you want to run out and buy it, you'll get a license. No stick, no real

Herald-Traveler Corp., shorn of its TV station, sold its newspaper in 1972,
and changed its name to WHDH Corp, since its only asset was WHDH Inc.
licensee of the AM and FM stations. H-T Corp. was still owned by old North
Shore money, mostly people who were investors in United Shoe of Beverly,
which owned and leased out  virtually every piece of shoe-manufacturing
equipment in the country.

WHDH Corp. soon thereafter was sold, merging into  John Blair & Co. in
1973. Blair had been the national rep firm for WHDH for decades. Blair had
privately acquired 9.7 percent of WHDH Corp. from the aforementioned North
Shore Yankees and made a tender offer of $30 per share for the remaining
90.3% of WHDH's 580,000 outstanding shares, about $15.7 million on top of
the initial stake. The stations had combined revenues of $4.3 million in

 The real estate sold to Blair had been mortgaged to New England Merchants
National Bank so that WHDH Corp. could  pay bills from the $11 million
write-down and associated severance costs incurred in April 1972 when it
shut down the Herald-Traveler and sold its assets to Hearst. The Needham
site was originally acquired in four transactions on March 22, 1948 by
Matheson Radio Co., Inc. for antenna siting as part of an AM power increase
to 50k and addition of FM service. (While it acquired Matheson Radio in
1946, Herald-Traveler Corp. did not rename the its broadcasting subsidiary
WHDH Inc. until Oct. 1, 1954.)

In 1987, Blair sold WHDH, ending one of Boston's most successful ownership
tenures, (Blair was the only Boston operator to separately take both an AM
and a FM to #1, 12+, something that CBS, Westinghouse, RKO, Plough,
Kaiser-Globe, Fairbanks, Charles River and Champion each couldn't

John Blair and Co. was acquired in 1987 by Reliance Capital Group which
immediately flipped Blair's broadcasting holdings to Sconnix Broadcasting
L.P. (flagship: WLNH, Laconia NH) for $152 million. The package included
KVIL, Dallas; WIBG Indianapolis and WFLA, Tampa, and their co-owned  FMs.
In order to acquire WCOZ, Sconnix divested its previously acquired WBOS to
Ackerly, and eventually sold theformer WHDH-FM, by then WZOU, to Ardman.

Sconnix sold WHDH in 1992 for $14 million to an entity called WHDH-AM Inc.,
a wholly owned unit of David Mugar's New England Television.   Sconnix kept
the real estate and towers. Mugar later bailed and sold WHDH to Atlantic
Radio around the same time he sold Ch. 7 to Sunshine. Atlantic soon
announced a merger with Boston-based Pyramid (WXKS), but that blew up  and
Atlantic merged instead with the Maryland-based Stoner stations, and a
Hartford station owned by former Sports Huddle producer Dangerous Dave
Pearlman, to form American Radio Systems.

ARS cashed out during the height of 1990s consolidation. Its principals,
who were never broadcasters, saw more profit in antenna sites and created
American Tower as an ARS  subsidiary, placing ownership of its station
towers, sites and leases with the tower company and acquiring still others.
American Tower  was spun off to shareholders as a separate company, while
the parent ARS merged into CBS. The erstwhile WHDH along with WRKO, WAAF
and WCGY were placed in trust to avoid market concentration rules, and sold
to Entercom for $140 million.

The WHDH real estate, meanwhile, stayed with Sconnix and a subsidiary
called Channel Broadcasting until 1998 when American Tower acquired the
real propertys.

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