A giant “for sale” sign just went up on Chicago’s richest radio group.
The announcement Tuesday by CBS Chairman and CEO Leslie Moonves that the company plans to sell its CBS Radio division suddenly puts seven of Chicago’s blue-chip stations — including top-rated all-news combo WBBM AM 780 and WCFS FM 105.9 — up for grabs.
Telling investors that CBS would “explore strategic options for radio as a whole,” Moonves said: “Going forward, we will do everything we can to assist in this transformative action and believe it will be to the benefit of our division, our stations and our people.”
Among 117 stations in 26 markets owned by CBS Radio are these Chicago properties:
- WBBM AM 780 and WCFS FM 105.9 (simulcast), all news. Audience share: 6.9 percent. Annual revenue (2015): $43.8 million.
- WSCR AM 670, sports/talk. Audience share: 2.4 percent. Annual revenue (2015): $21.9 million.
- WBBM FM 96.3, rhythmic Top 40. Audience share: 3.0 percent. Annual revenue (2015): $20 million.
- WUSN FM 99.5, country. Audience share: 2.7 percent. Annual revenue (2015): 16.9 million.
- WXRT FM 93.1, adult album alternative. Audience share: 2.6 percent. Annual revenue (2015): $13.3 million.
- WJMK FM 104.3, classic hits. Audience share: 3.2 percent. Annual revenue (2015): $7.5 million.
CBS Radio Chicago group led the market in 2015 with total revenue of $123.54 million, according to industry sources.
No timeline was announced for a sale. “We will be prudent and judicious,” Moonves said. “We will take our time to make sure that we do it right.”