The station for years generated revenues far in excess of its ratings, a testament to management's plucky ability to sell its loyal listeners to advertisers and inserting sponsored segments anywhere they could. Saltzman said as recently as 2007, the Zone was bringing in $14 million in revenue despite a relatively weak AM signal (especially at night). Obviously since the recession hit, the Zone is nowhere near that number anymore.
It has also nurtured plenty of talent, including the 2 Live Stews and two mid-day hosts now on rival 680/The Fan: Matt Chernoff and Chuck Oliver.
But more recently, 680/The Fan began pulling in stronger ratings, fueled partly by the Braves. In July, the Zone ranked 22nd among men 25 to 54 while the Fan ranked 17th. The Zone recently lost the Atlanta Hawks to Cumulus, which will air the games on 99X and make 680 partners. (Dickey Broadcasting owns 680 but the Dickey family also have a stake in Cumulus Media.)
Rumors of this transaction leaked out last week but both Saltzman last Tuesday and Mack himself last Friday denied it had happened. Mack said the papers were finalized over the weekend.
This was Saltzman and Shapiro's baby from day one. But Shapiro denied the station is in financial duress.
"Owning your own company isÂ extremely rewarding," Shapiro said. "We decided to trade in the day-to-day stress for the security of a great job at a great company."
Here's Saltzman in the press release:
"We have accomplished a great deal as entrepreneurial broadcasters, and this acquisition allows 790 The Zone to compete at an even higher level," said Saltzman. "I am pleased with the development of this strategic partnership."
UPDATE: Shapiro was always about promoting the Zone to me when he was the owner. But when I called him after he became a Lincoln Financial employee, he said he had to refer me to Saltzman, the designated spokesman for the Zone. (Now all on-the-record interviews with Zone employees have to be pre-cleared through Saltzman -- even poor Steak.)
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