The Decline of the Dickey Empire

In keeping with the three generation rule, the Atlanta-based Dickey family appears to have significant difficulties.

Lewis Dickey Sr was generation one of the Dickey broadcasting empire. He owned several radio stations in the Atlanta area. He originally owned radio stations in Toledo Ohio, but moved to Atlanta in 1980, when he was in his mid 50s.

Lewis Dickey Sr had 6 children. Lew Dickey Jr and John Dickey built up Cumulus Broadcasting using other people’s money until they were kicked out by the lenders in 2015. Cumulus subsequently declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Shortly thereafter, it was announced Lew Dickey Jr had a $200 million line of credit to acquire media properties. He did not re-enter the radio business, instead investing in a company called akazoo, hoping to become the world’s biggest streaming company. I have never heard of it.

It turns out it was a fraudulent company with exaggerated subscriber counts. Lew Dickey Jr has stayed on as CEO to resolve the legal issues.

Back to Dickey Radio Company (DRC) – well after sons Lew Jr and John were running Cumulus, dad continued to own three AM radio stations in the Atlanta Market. If his children can be believed, Dad moved those assets into a trust, and then split up that trust among his children, in anticipation of his death. Nobody informed the FCC and the children claim they only learned of it several days before Lew Sr died in 2013.

So that brings us up to now. Dickey Radio Company still owns 3 AM radio stations in the Atlanta Georgia market. WCNN-AM holds the AM broadcasting rights for Atlanta Braves baseball games. All three stations are sports talk format. That is diffult to keep going in 2020.

I guess it was not a surprise that Dickey Radio Company was near the front of the line to get a government rescue loan.


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