NRG Media (Website) is a radio station owner located in Cedar Rapids, Iowa in the heartland of Middle America. It has a very clear vision that its role in radio is being local. Either NRG is living in a past that no longer exists or they are the pioneers in the future of radio. They own 15 AM and 27 FM stations. Time will tell.
NRG is the result of a merger in 2005 between NewRadio Group and Waitt Media. The company is operated by a woman named Mary Quass. The merger was funding by private equity capital, including from GE Capital.
Waitt Media was headed by Norman W. Waitt, Jr, who now serves as Chairman of NRG. Waitt Media was headquartered in Sioux City, South Dakota.
Mary Quass was the President/CEO of NewRadio Group. She has been named as one of the top 40 most powerful people in the radio business. She has been a board member of the NAB. She testifed to Congress in 2007 on behalf of the NAB, opposing the merger of Sirius and XM stating the position that allowing the 2 companies to merge (and possibly survive and continue to take listeners away from NAB’s members) was going to result in fewer listening choices for consumers. (Ed. NAB Bull-[expletive deleted])
She began in radio in 1977 in radio sales. She formed her own company Quass Communications in 1988 and was carried along by the merger mania though Central Star -> Chancellor -> AMFM. Central Star owned 66 stations in the Midwest U.S. When it looked like Clear Channel was going to take over AMFM in early 2000, she volunteered to close the office she was running and “retire”. In 2002, with the backing of Private Equity Capital, she acquired 22 stations from Marathon Media (Chris Divine)
A third component in the creation of NRG is Alta Communications. Alta provided the funding that made this marriage possible. Alta has current or past relationships with Acme Communications (TV), Bluewater Broadcasting, Bustos Media (Hispanic), Galaxy Communications (NY), Inner City Broadcasting (Urban), Liberman Broadcasting (Hispanic), Millenium, NextMedia Group, Radio One(urban), Renda Broadcasting, Tichenor Media, and Vox Radio.
Many of Alta’s radio investments have some connection to Radio Mogul and Marathon runner [hence Marathon Media] Chris Devine. Mr Devine is currently a co-defendant in a Civil RICO lawsuit filed in February 2009 by Luke Allen, the son of C. Robert Allen, III, who is claiming that his father was not competent to make decisions about his money and that he has been defrauded by Devine and others. C Robert Allen III’s wife of 50 years had a judge name Luke guardian for his father’s affairs. The NY Sun describes both sides of the story [here]. Mr Devine spoke freely to the NY Sun Reporter, Mr Allen has no comment and is doing his talking through lawyers. Draw whatever conclusion you wish from that.
Waitt had operated stations owned by South Dakota based Sorenson Broadcasting. Mr Sorenson is getting to retirement age where running a network of Radio Stations is something he would rather let other people do with him being the mentor. The South Dakota stations are no longer run by NRG – the details are confusing – as near as I can figure out, NRG sold their LMA to Riverfront Broadcasting, who appear to believe they have bought the stations. One account says the deal includes an option to buy the stations. Probably the reality is in the lawyerese. Since the licenses were not transferred, the FCC has no filings about the transfer.
Major Stations – top 25 markets
None, and proud of it. The largest market the company operates in is in Omaha, Nebraska. You can see the list of stations that are licensed to NRG [here].
The company is privately owned.
Norman W. Waitt, Jr is the CEO. He arrived at NRG with the merger in 2005. As of 2008, Mr Waitt is the 1,014 richest person in the world according to Forbes magazine. He was the co-founder of Gateway Computers. He left Gateway in 1991 and founded Waitt Media and Gold Circle films.
John Schuele is Sr VP and CFO – he arrived from Waitt Media. He’s from Nebraska, is a CPA and helps the Ronald McDonald House.
Mary Quass as mentioned above has a long history of managing radio stations and was key to bringing together the stations owners and the venture capital people.
Robert Emmert – Private Equity guy from the McCarthy Group in Boston (did you expect somewhere else?). Prior to McCarthy he worked for Alta (at the time NRG was created). He also sits (sat?) on the board of Millenium Radio Group. Interestingly, he does not appear to have a Harvard MBA.
Dana Bradford – from McCarthy Group. He’s the President. His specialty is arranging financing for small businesses in financial trouble. He’s a finance guy with not a lot of public history. He was involved with Gold Circle Films, an independent film production company started by Mr Waitt – with a long string of movies you never saw, and one accidental hit – My Big Fat Greek Wedding.
Jessica Barry Reed – VP of Alta (VP is lower level than Partner). She’s an accountant with a background in finance.
Dex Allen – was a late night Disk Jockey at KQV in Pittsburgh in the 1960s. He had his own company, sold it and went to work for Capstar. In 1998, he started another radio company that had 21 small market stations backed by Alta. Those stations were sold to Cherry Creek Radio in 2003 for $41 million.
Finances / Profitability
Since the company is privately held, no information about its finances and profitability are available.