The Hubbard Broadcasting family is expanding again.
Hubbard Radio will buy the 10 radio stations of Sandusky Radio in an $85.5 million deal, expanding Hubbard's station count to 30 and giving it national reach by adding two West Coast markets, Seattle and Phoenix.
The move comes about two years after St. Paul-based Hubbard closed a $505 million purchase of 17 stations, chiefly in big East Coast and Midwest cities, that marked a significant foray beyond the Twin Cities. Among the stations it acquired in that deal was WTOP-AM in Washington, D.C., the nation's highest-revenue station last year.
The latest transaction involves two privately held companies that are still run by the families of their founders, both of which have high profiles in the radio industry. With the deal, Sandusky Newspapers Inc. of Sandusky, Ohio, will exit the broadcasting business and concentrate on digital transformation of its newspapers and other print products.
Longtime radio market analyst Tom Taylor described the purchase as very significant. "It's the Hubbards' first major deal since the $505 million in 2011. It raises their profile to a new level," he said.
Hubbard board chair Ginny Morris wrote in a statement that "both families share a commitment to long-term strategy and a commitment to super-serve the communities in which they do business."
Norman Rau, president of Sandusky Radio, said that as a significantly larger broadcasting company, "Hubbard can give the Sandusky stations a potential for growth and scale that Sandusky on its own just could not give them."
The stations in Seattle are KIXI-AM, KQMV-FM, KKNW-AM, KRWM-FM and KLCK-FM. The five Phoenix stations are KSLX-FM, KUPD-FM, KDKB-FM, KAZG-AM and KDUS-AM.
Taylor described the acquired FM stations as top-notch. Two of the Seattle stations, KQMV and KRWM, lead the Top 40 and adult contemporary markets there. In Phoenix, the three FM stations make up a rock block. "They own the rock market and the young male demographic," he said.
The Seattle/Tacoma area is the 13th-largest U.S. radio market, according to Arbitron Radio Market Rankings; Phoenix is ranked 14th.
With the addition of the new markets, Hubbard Broadcasting solidifies its position as the country's No. 8 radio chain in revenue, according to BIA/Kelsey.
In the Twin Cities, Hubbard owns KSTP (1500 AM), KS95-FM and MyTalk 107.1-FM. In addition to the Twin Cities and Washington, D.C., the company owns radio stations in Chicago, Cincinnati and St. Louis. It is an affiliate of Hubbard Broadcasting Inc., which owns 12 TV stations in Minnesota, New York and New Mexico.
Staff writer Evan Ramstad contributed to this report.