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Emmis to sell four Terre Haute radio stations

October 12, 2016

Emmis Communications announced Wednesday it will sell its Terre Haute radio stations as part of a multi-company deal that will generate $5.2 million for the Indianapolis-based company.

The announcement comes as Emmis CEO Jeff Smulyan continues to seek board approval for his $4.10-per-share offer to take the media company private. He has extended his offer three times, and it's now set to expire Friday.

 "The sale of our stations in Terre Haute, while difficult, will help us further our goal of de-levering our balance sheet," Smulyan said in a written statement.

Under the deal, Emmis will sell the assets of WTHI-FM and the intellectual property of WWVR-FM to Midwest Communications for $4.3 million. Midwest is a family-owned company based in Wausau, Wisconsin, with radio stations in eight Midwestern states, including Indiana.

Emmis will also sell the assets of WFNF-AM, WFNB-FM and the non-intellectual property of WWVR for $900,000 to DLC Media Inc., which is owned by Dave Crooks, a former Indiana state legislator who operates radio stations in several other Indiana markets.

In addition, because Midwest is currently at its federal ownership limits in the Terre Haute market, it will sell one of its stations—WDKE-FM—to DLC Media.

 The transactions—which require approval from the Federal Communications Commission—are cross-conditioned, meaning each one must occur for all of them to be finalized. They are expected to close after the first of the year.

Emmis has owned WTHI-FM 99.9 and WWVR-FM 105.5 The River since 1998. It added WFNB-FM B92.7 and WFNF-AM 1130 WFNF-FM 99.5 The Fan in 2012

“We are thrilled the buyers value radio and have long traditions of success in smaller markets, like Terre Haute,” Smulyan said.

Kalil & Co. Inc. served as the broker in the transaction.

In addition to the four Terre Haute stations, Emmis owns 15 FM and 4 AM radio stations in New York, Los Angeles, St. Louis and Indianapolis.

Smulyan initially made his offer to take Emmis private on Aug. 18 and set a Sept. 16 deadline for the deal. When he rolled out his offer, he said he planned to sell the company's magazines (except Indianapolis Monthly), its Terre Haute radio stations and a New York station to reduce debt.

With the repeated extensions, shareholders have become more skeptical the deal will close. The stock, which traded as high as $4.25 in late August, closed Wednesday at $3.89, down 2 cents on the day.

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