Emmis Communications

Emmis Communications
Traded as NASDAQ: EMMS
Industry Broadcasting
Founded 1980 (1980)
Headquarters Indianapolis, Indiana
Key people
Jeffrey Smulyan
Services Radio
Website www.emmis.com/

Emmis Communications is an American media conglomerate based in Indianapolis, Indiana. The company owns radio stations and magazines in the United States and Slovakia.



In 1980, Emmis Broadcasting founder Jeffrey Smulyan purchased his first radio station, WSVL-FM Shelbyville, Indiana. In July 1981, Smulyan changed the format from country music to adult contemporary and renamed the station WENS. The station's quick success led him to purchase other radio stations throughout the country.

Around 1984, the company bought Magic 106 in Los Angeles, California; at the time, L.A. Lakers player "Magic" Johnson was an early spokesperson for the station. In early 1986, Emmis changed Magic 106 to Power 106 KPWR. Also in 1986, the company expanded as they purchased WAPP-FM (renamed WQHT) and WHN (now WEPN) in New York as well as WAVA-FM in Washington, D.C. from the Doubleday Broadcasting Company. Both KPWR and WQHT would pioneer the rhythmic format and go on to be Emmis' two flagship radio properties. In 1987, Emmis would transform WHN into the world's first all-sports radio station, WFAN.

Emmis acquired five NBC radio stations in 1988 but sold two to avoid a duopoly.


In 1994, the company purchased WIBC and WKLR in Indianapolis from the Horizon Broadcast Corporation and WRKS in New York City from the Summit Communications Group. WKLR was changed from an oldies format to a classic hits format with the call letters of WNAP in September 1994.

Also in 1994, Emmis became a public company. The expansion continued as the company purchased numerous television and radio stations in the late 1990s.

In 1998, Emmis Broadcasting changed its name to Emmis Communications and moved into its current headquarters on Monument Circle in Indianapolis.


In 2003, Emmis appointed its first black VP/General Manager, Barry Mayo. He oversaw 98.7 Kiss FM, Hot 97, and WQCD (CD 101.9), all in New York City.

In 2005, Emmis changed the format of their first radio station from its long-term adult contemporary format to country, and the call letters were changed from WENS to WLHK. Emmis was also named one of Fortune's 100 Best Companies to Work For. In March of that year, Emmis Communications and 98.7 KISS-FM, NY celebrated Women's History Month by introducing their first annual salute to Phenomenal Women (also referred to as the Phenomenal Woman Awards).[1]

In January 2006, after 3 years in which Barry Mayo's New York station moved behind Power 105.1 as the second-tier rap station in New York, Mayo announced his departure from his post.

In 2006, Emmis flipped KZLA/Los Angeles to Adult Rhythmic Contemporary as "KMVN, Movin' 93.9". The move gives Emmis a companion station to complement KPWR. However, on April 15, 2009, KMVN switched to Spanish-language programming, KXOS, under a seven-year Local Marketing Agreement with Grupo Radio Centro of Mexico City.[2]

On June 9, 2009, Emmis announced it has formed a strategic alliance with StreamTheWorld, the radio industry's streaming technology and services company, to put all Emmis radio stations on a new streaming platform.[3]


On January 12, 2011, the share price of Emmis stock surged 42% as insiders speculated that the company could be close to selling off several of its radio stations. In their January, 2011 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company reported that it had the necessary cash to survive through February, 2011. "Absent asset sales, which the company is actively pursuing," Emmis attorneys stated in the regulatory filing, "the company believes it is unlikely it will be able to maintain compliance with the financial covenants after Sept. 1, 2011."[4]

On August 16, 2013, Emmis launched the NextRadio smartphone app on HTC One Android phones from Sprint.[5][6] A deal struck between the radio industry and Sprint facilitated the launch[7] which subsequently enabled FM radio support for the app on additional Android devices available on the Sprint wireless network.[8]

On October 12, 2016, Emmis announced that they will sell their radio stations in the Terre Haute cluster to Midwest Communications and DLC Media. Midwest Communications will acquire WTHI-FM and the intellectual property of WWVR while DLC Media will acquire WFNF, WFNB and the broadcast license for WWVR. Midwest Communications will also sell WDKE to DLC Media to stay under FCC ownership limits. The sale was consummated on January 27, 2017.[9][10][11]

It was announced on March 1, 2017, that Emmis has sold four of its magazines (Atlanta, Cincinnati, Los Angeles, & Orange Coast) to Hour Media Group, LLC for $6.5 million. It has also sold Texas Monthly to Genesis Park, LP for $25 million.[12]

On May 9, 2017, Emmis announced that it will sell KPWR to The Meruelo Group for $82.75 million. The announcement comes after Emmis, who exits the nation's second-largest radio market, made a deal in April with its lenders to seek $80 million worth of divestments by January 2018 to amend its credit agreement. The Meruelo Group began operating the station under an LMA on July 1, 2017 until the sale was consummated on August 1, 2017.[13][14][15]

On January 30, 2018, Emmis announced it would leave the St. Louis market, selling KSHE and KPNT to Hubbard Broadcasting, and KFTK and KNOU to Entercom. [16]

Company portfolio

Emmis Interactive, Inc.

Current clients include: Astral Media, Corus Entertainment, Emmis Radio, Greater Media, Lincoln Financial Media, Renda Broadcasting,

Emmis Interactive was sold to Marketron in October 2012.[17][18]


Former Emmis-owned magazines

NextRadio app

The NextRadio smartphone app was developed by Emmis, with support from the National Association of Broadcasters, to take advantage of mobile devices with activated internal FM receivers.[19] NextRadio allows users of select FM-enabled smartphones to listen to live broadcast FM radio while receiving supplemental data such as album art, program information, and metadata over the internet.[20][21] Launched in August 2013 through a radio industry agreement with Sprint Corporation,[22] the app is available preloaded on select devices it is also available for download in the Google Play Store.[23]

The NextRadio app is powered by TagStation, an Emmis-developed cloud data service for enhanced radio broadcasting.[24][25] TagStation allows broadcasters a web-based platform for managing supplemental content for delivery to the NextRadio app,[26] HD Radio receivers,[27] and connected car dashboards.[28]


Currently owned stations – Europe

  • Rádio Expres in Slovakia
  • Sláger Rádió in Hungary. Emmis Communications' Hungarian national radio station, Sláger, was taken off the air on November 18, 2009 because of the expiration of their broadcasting license. The license were given to another radio station, but Emmis went to court and won the trial on July 14, 2010.

Currently owned stations – United States

Location Callsign Frequency Branding Format
Indianapolis, Indiana WFNI 107.5 MHz
1070 kHz
The Fan Sports
WIBC 93.1 MHz 93 WIBC News/Talk
WLHK 97.1 MHz Hank FM Country
WYXB 105.7 MHz B105.7 Adult Contemporary
New York, New York WBLS 107.5 MHz 107.5 WBLS Urban Adult Contemporary
WEPN-FM 1 98.7 MHz 98.7 ESPN Sports
WLIB 1190 kHz 1190 WLIB Urban Contemporary Gospel
WQHT 97.1 MHz Hot 97 Rhythmic Top 40
Austin, Texas KBPA 103.5 MHz BOB FM Adult hits
KGSR 93.3 MHz Radio Austin AAA
KLZT 107.1 MHz La Z 107.1 Regional Mexican
KLBJ-FM 93.7 MHz 93.7 KLBJ Classic rock
KROX-FM 101.5 MHz 101X Alternative rock
KLBJ 590 kHz News Radio KLBJ News/Talk
K274AX 102.7 MHz Latina 102.7 Spanish CHR Latino
  1. operated by ESPN Radio/LMA by the Walt Disney Company under a local marketing agreement)

Former Emmis-owned radio stations

  • Now owned by The Meruelo Group
  • Sold to Merlin Media;Now owned by Cumulus Media
    • Chicago-WKQX;Q101 Chicago, the intellectual property of the station during Emmis's ownership, operated online by Broadcast Barter Radio Networks
    • WLUP-FM-Sold with WKQX
  • Now owned by Radio One Inc
    • Indianapolis – WNOU
  • Now owned by Entercom
    • New York City – WFAN-FM – managed by Emmis from 1996 to 2001. Owned by Emmis 2001–2011. Was WQCD CD 101.9 playing Smooth Jazz/AC from August 1988 to February 2008. Became Modern Rock/Triple A hybrid WRXP in 2008. Sold to Merlin in 2011 – flipped to All News WEMP in July. Reverted to Rock as WRXP in the Summer of 2012. Sold To CBS and flipped to Sports WFAN-FM simulcasting WFAN November 2012
    • WHN/WFAN – 1986–1988 – bought the station as WHN which played Country and Southern Pop daytime and sports at night. Emmis expanded the Sports format to full-time on July 1, 1987 and dropped the WHN calls in favor of WFAN. Sold only the station license and transmitter (excluding building, contents, and intellectual WFAN Unit) to Spanish Broadcasting System to buy the 660 AM WNBC license and transmitter (and again excluding the WNBC Intellectual unit, building space, and contents such as equipment) to move the intellectual WFAN unit there. In October 1988 when WFAN's Unit moved to 660, 1050 took a Spanish AC format and became WUKQ. SBS swapped the station to Jewish Forward for 97.9 FM. The Spanish AC format went to 97.9 FM as WSKQ and the Jewish/Ethnic/Brokered programming from the WEVD unit moved to AM 1050 making that station WEVD. WEVD became an affiliate of ESPN Radio in 2001 and sold to ABC soon after becoming WEPN. When the ESPN Radio format went to 98.7 as WEPN-FM, AM 1050 took the Spanish feed of ESPN radio as WEPN.
    • WFAN – 1988–1992 – The WFAN All Sports unit moved from 1050 to 660 October 1988. Neither Emmis or CBS claim history of AM 660 prior to 1988 when the station was WNBC playing a mix of talk, AC, Sports, and oldies (Was Hot AC and Top 40 in the late 1970s until about 1985) while Emmis does claim 1050's history. Emmis kept Imus In The Morning but otherwise 660 was WFAN's Intellectual unit. Emmis sold WFAN to Infinity Radio in 1992 which in a corporate deal became owned by CBS in 1997.
    • St. LouisKNOU – 96.3
    • St. LouisKFTK-FM – 97.1
  • Now owned by Midwest Communications
    • Terre Haute, Indiana WTHI-FM – 99.9
  • Now owned by DLC Media
    • Terre Haute, Indiana WFNB – 92.7
    • Terre Haute, Indiana WFNF – 1130
    • Terre Haute, Indiana WWVR – 105.5
  • Now owned by Salem Media Group
  • Now owned by Hubbard Broadcasting

WorldBand Media HD Radio deal

Emmis announced on September 9, 2008 that it had teamed up with digital radio network WorldBand Media and would be using the "HD-3" subchannels to produce programming for the South Asian communities in Chicago (on WLUP), Los Angeles (on KPWR), and New York (on WQHT), and would include a combination of local and international content that should be available by mid-October 2008.[30]


In May 2005, Emmis announced its intent to sell some or all of the 16 television stations they owned at the time. In August 2005, the company announced the sale of nine television stations, as well as four more in October, an additional station in May 2006, another station in February 2007, and its final station in May 2008. Emmis no longer owns any television stations.[31]

Former Emmis-owned television stations

Stations are arranged alphabetically by state and by city of license.


  • (##) – Indicates a station owned by Silver King Broadcasting prior to its acquisition by Emmis in 1998.
  • (¤¤) – Indicates a station owned by Lee Enterprises prior to its acquisition by Emmis in 2000.
City of license / Market Station Channel
Years owned Current ownership status
Mobile - Gulf Shores, Alabama WALA-TV ## 10 (9) 1998–2005 Fox affiliate owned by Meredith Corporation
WBPG 55 (25) 2003–2006 The CW affiliate, WFNA, owned by Nexstar Media Group
Tucson, Arizona KGUN ¤¤ 9 (9) 2000–2005 ABC affiliate owned by E. W. Scripps Company
Cape Coral - Fort Myers - Naples, Florida WFTX-TV 36 (35) 1998–2005 Fox affiliate owned by E. W. Scripps Company
Clermont - Orlando -
Daytona Beach, Florida
WKCF 18 (17) 1998–2006 The CW affiliate owned by Hearst Television
Honolulu KHON-TV ## 2 (8) 1998–2006 Fox affiliate owned by Nexstar Media Group
KGMB ¤¤ 9 (now 5 (23)) 2000–2007 CBS affiliate owned by Raycom Media
Terre Haute, Indiana WTHI-TV 10 (10) 1998–2005 CBS affiliate owned by Heartland Media
Topeka, Kansas KSNT ¤¤ 27 (27) 2000–2006 NBC affiliate owned by Nexstar Media Group
Wichita - Hutchinson, Kansas KSNW ¤¤ 3 (45) 2000–2006 NBC affiliate owned by Nexstar Media Group
Great Bend, Kansas KSNC ¤¤
(satellite of KSNW)
2 (22) 2000–2006 NBC affiliate owned by Nexstar Media Group
Garden City, Kansas KSNG ¤¤
(satellite of KSNW)
11 (11) 2000–2006 NBC affiliate owned by Nexstar Media Group
McCook, Nebraska KSNK ¤¤
(satellite of KSNW)
8 (12) 2000–2006 NBC affiliate owned by Nexstar Media Group
New Orleans, Louisiana WVUE-DT ## 8 (29) 1998–2008 Fox affiliate owned by Raycom Media
Grand Rapids - Battle Creek -
Kalamazoo, MI
WXMI 17 (19) 1998 1 Fox affiliate owned by Tribune Broadcasting
Omaha, Nebraska - Council Bluffs, Iowa KMTV ¤¤ 3 (45) 2000–2007 2 CBS affiliate owned by E. W. Scripps Company
Manchester, New Hampshire WMUR-TV 9 (9) 2000–2001 3 ABC affiliate owned by Hearst Television
Albuquerque - Santa Fe, New Mexico KRQE ¤¤ 13 (13) 2000–2005 CBS affiliate owned by Nexstar Media Group
Portland, Oregon KOIN ¤¤ 6 (40) 2000–2006 CBS affiliate owned by Nexstar Media Group
Tacoma - Seattle, Washington KTZZ 22 (25) 1998 1 MyNetworkTV affiliate, KZJO, owned by Tribune Broadcasting
Huntington - Charleston, West Virginia WSAZ-TV ¤¤ 3 (23) 2000–2005 NBC affiliate owned by Gray Television
Green Bay, Wisconsin WLUK-TV ## 11 (11) 1998–2005 Fox affiliate owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group


Board of directors

  • Jeff Smulyan – Chairman of the Board, President and CEO; former owner of Major League Baseball's Seattle Mariners
  • Susan Bayh – Visiting Professor, Butler University
  • Gary Kaseff – Executive Vice President and General Counsel
  • Richard Leventhal – President & Majority Owner of LMCS, LLC.
  • Peter Lund – Media Consultant and former President & CEO of CBS Television.
  • Greg Nathanson – former Television Division President
  • Lawrence Sorrel – Tailwind Capital Partners
  • Patrick Walsh – Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer


  1. 98.7 KISS-FM (7 April 2005). "Emmis communications/98.7 KISS-FM celebrated Women's History Month by introducing its first annual salute to Phenomenal Women". Press Release. Emmis Communications.
  2. Emmis Press Release April 15, 2009 Archived June 28, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  3. Emmis Press Release June 9, 2009 Archived June 28, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  4. Emmis surges as industry anticipates radio sale
  5. http://www.allaccess.com/net-news/archive/story/121344/emmis-and-sprint-roll-out-nextradio----fm-enabled-
  6. http://newsroom.sprint.com/news-releases/rock-out-with-new-nextradio-app-on-red-hot-htc-one-exclusively-from-sprint-beginning-aug-16.htm
  7. http://www.radioworld.com/article/sprint-to-launch-smartphones-with-fm-capability-aug-/220863
  8. http://newsroom.sprint.com/news-releases/sprint-customers-to-enjoy-local-fm-radio-on-smartphones-via-fm-radio-chip.htm
  9. "Emmis Announces Agreement to Sell Terre Haute Radio Stations in Three, Related Transactions - Emmis Communications". Emmis Communications. 12 October 2016.
  10. "Emmis, Midwest & DLC Media Make Deals In Terre Haute". RadioInsight. 18 October 2016.
  11. https://radioinsight.com/headlines/116191/mass-terre-haute-station-shuffle-to-start-with-wwvr-move-to-98-5/. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  12. Emmis Communications Sells Off Four City Magazines, Paste Magazine, 1 March 2017, Retrieved 2 March 2017.
  13. "Emmis Sells Power 106 Los Angeles To Mereulo Group" from Radio Insight (May 9, 2017)
  14. Looking At The KPWR Deal RadioInsight - May 9, 2017
  15. "Meruelo Takes Over KPWR; Sets New Management" from Radio Insight (July 6, 2017)
  16. Holleman, Joe. "Emmis Communications leaving St. Louis market with sale of KSHE, 3 other radio stations". stltoday.com. Retrieved 2018-01-31.
  17. http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/emmis-sells-emmis-interactive-to-marketron-172670531.html
  18. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-04-02. Retrieved 2015-03-17.
  19. "NextRadio: Delivering the Hybrid Radio Experience". NAB.org.
  20. "What We Do". Emmis.com.
  21. O'Malley, Chris (September 14, 2013). "Emmis' 'NextRadio' app mimics traditional FM radio". Indianapolis Business Journal.
  22. "Sprint customers to enjoy local FM radio on smartphones via FM radio chip". Sprint Newsroom. January 8, 2013.
  23. "NextRadio". Google Play Store.
  24. "What We Do – NextRadio and TagStation". Emmis.com.
  25. "TagStation®". TagStation.com.
  26. "TagStation". TagStation.com.
  27. "Artist Experience®". HD Radio®.
  28. "iBiquity Digital and TagStation Unveil World's First Automotive Platform Converging Digital Radio Broadcasting and Mobile Application Technologies". PR Newswire. Jan 5, 2015.
  29. "Emmis Sells L.A.’s Power 106 to Meruelo Group for $82.75 Million" (Variety, May 9, 2017)
  30. "Emmis partners with WorldBand Media to launch HD channels for South Asian communities". Radio-Info.com. September 1, 2008.
  31. "News". TV Week. April 18, 2006.
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