Larry Wilson was the guy behind the original Citadel Broadcasting. After the 1996 Telecom reform act lifted the national cap, he used borrowed money to buy up several hundred radio stations but only stations in small markets that don’t rely on national ratings.
After he had collected this group of stations, his financial backers agreed to pay him to leave – giving him around a billion dollars – just before the bottom dropped out. His replacement wanted to be a big market wheeler dealer, who entered into the agreement to buy ABC radio, which very quickly pushed Citadel into bankruptcy and into the waiting arms of Cumulus.
Maybe a year ago, Mr Wilson started going on a buying spree with his new company. The theory is that once he has a new collection of similar small market radio stations, Alpha will launch an IPO. Back in May, he agreed to buy the ~30 radio stations of Morris Communications, a newspaper company based in the Midwest.
The rumor has been circulating that Alpha was going to acquire Digity, a similar company buying up failed radio groups at fire sale prices. That rumor is now a fact
After the merger, Alpha will own about 250 stations, about half the size of Cumulus.
Nobody is saying this rumor, but Townsquare Media would be a good match to acquire also – they targeted the same kind of small market radio stations.