UPDATE: Number of Cumulus stations in Nashville corrected.
Knoxville’s most popular radio station, WIVK, is a step closer to having a new owner. WIVK is currently part of Citadel Broadcasting Corp., a Las Vegas-based radio network which is being bought by Atlanta-based Cumulus Media Inc.
Citadel shareholders are expected to vote Thursday to approve the merger.
On Tuesday the companies announced that the Department of Justice had completed its antitrust review and the required waiting period had been ended. Last week, Cumulus agreed to sell two stations in Pennsylvania and one in Michigan to resolve DOJ antitrust concerns.
The merger is still subject to Federal Communications Commission approval.
Cumulus announced in March that it would buy Citadel in a cash and stock deal valued at $2.4 billion. The radio industry has been consolidating in recent years as advertising declined due to the weak economy.
The companies are among the two or three largest radio networks in the country – depending on which measure you prefer. Cumulus bills itself as the second largest radio company based on number of stations and Citadel says it is No.3 based on revenues.
Cumulus currently operates 346 radio stations in 68 U.S. media markets and Citadel operates 223 stations reaching 50 markets.
The largest radio network in the country will remain privately-owned Clear Channel Communications Inc., which has 850 stations, according to its website. Clear Channel, a global media and entertainment company whose corporate headquarters are in San Antonio, Texas, has 17 stations in Tennessee but none in Knoxville.
Cumulus currently isn’t much of a player in Tennessee, with only five stations in Nashville, according to its website. That will change overnight with the acquisition of Citadel, which has four stations each in Knoxville, Chattanooga and Memphis, five in the Tri-Cities and two in Nashville.
In addition to county music station WIVK, Citadel’s other Knoxville stations are WOKI Newstalk 98.7, and the Sports Animal stations, WNML-FM 99.1, WNML-AM 990.
Financial Times: Cumulus to buy Citadel for $2.5bn