The Media Notepad: Audacy to emerge from bankruptcy soon than expected…thanks to George Soros

Also: KC radio personality killed in parade shooting; MLB to produce Colorado Rockies games; TVNewsCheck might stick around after all – for a price

One of the most despised individuals in conservative circles might become the largest shareholder in one of America’s biggest radio companies.

George Soros – who is known as a force in progressive politics, is on track to become the biggest shareholder in Audacity when it comes out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Through his Soros Fund Management, the firm is absorbing $414 million in premium debt, ahead of other investors.

Existing Audacy shareholders would lose their shares while senior creditors would retain equity in the restructured company, which owns seven stations in Chicago, including all-news WBBM Newsradio and sports talker 670 The Score (WSCR-AM.) Audacy is the former Entercom, who bought CBS Radio in 2017.

“The commitment from both existing and new debt holders to transition into equity holders in Audacy underlines a strong belief in our organization and the broader radio and audio industry’s potential,” said Audacy in a statement. The plan will be reviewed by a bankruptcy court on Tuesday.

Soros already owns a stake in a radio company, an $80 million investment in Latino Media Networks through Lakestar Finance with LMN purchasing several stations from TelevisaUnivision two years ago. Objections are already being planned to the deal from Audacy including SAG-AFTRA over collective bargaining agreements.

Soros often bankrolls Democratic candidates for office and made financial contributions to Cook County State Attorney Kim Foxx’s campaign in 2020, according to the Sun-Times. Foxx is notoriously unpopular as voters blame her office for being lax on crime and the way she mishandled the Jussie Smollett case. Foxx was also testy with the local media, slamming Nexstar’s WGN-TV for “a cherry-picked poll that only examines two actors in a broad system and who happen to be Black women.”

Foxx is not running for re-election.

Up until 2020, I admitted I never heard of George Soros, figuring it was some kind of fictional character conservatives created. Well, he is the real deal and is now about to control the nation’s second-largest radio company.

AP/Nick Wright

Just three days after the Kansas City Chiefs celebrated their fourth Super Bowl victory, tragedy unfolded at the team’s parade Wednesday as one person was killed and twenty others injured as a gunman opened fire on the crowd.

The woman who was killed was a radio personality Lisa Lopez-Galvan, who hosted a Tejano music program at KKFI-FM called A Taste of Tejano.

“It is with sincere sadness and an extremely heavy and broken heart that we let our community know that KKFI DJ Lisa Lopez, host of Taste of Tejano lost her life today in the shooting at the KC Chiefs’ rally,” the radio station posted on Facebook. “Our hearts and prayers are with her family.” Programming a public radio-like format, non-profit KKFI is branded as Free Range Radio and owned by Mid-Coast Radio Project since it launched in 1988.

Two juveniles were detained at the scene and were charged Friday. The shooting might have stemmed from a dispute between two groups of people.

Taylor Swift, who attended numerous Chiefs games this season including the Super Bowl, donated $100,000 through a GoFundMe account for Lopez-Gavalan’s family. “Sending my deepest sympathies and condolences in the wake of your devastating loss. With love, Taylor Swift”, in a note written to the family.

This is not the first time a shooting happened at a victory parade – five years ago four people were shot at the end of the Toronto Raptors parade days after they won the NBA Title. Violence also broke out during the championship parades in 2000 for the Los Angeles Lakers and in 1993 for the Dallas Cowboys.

Despite Chicago’s notorious reputation for crime and violence, no such incidents happened at any of the fourteen championship parades or rallies held for our teams in the city dating back to 1986 (the number includes the WNBA’s Chicago Sky 2021 championship and MLS’ Chicago Fire 1998 title in their first season.)

The brazenness of the Valentine’s Day shooting stunned Kansas City and the nation and continues a decades-old debate about the proliferation of guns in our society. The shooting comes on the anniversary of three other Valentine’s Day gun tragedies: the Parkland School shooting in 2018 and ten years earlier, a shooting at Cole Hall on the campus of Northern Illinois University, and the 1929 St. Valentine’s Day massacre on Chicago’s North Side.

Remember when TVNewsCheck said they were “pausing” operations? Well, they may be un-pausing operations soon – for a price.

The media industry trade announced Thursday it would return to normal operations, asking 1,500 subscribers to pony up $199 a month for a yearly subscription. This comes after an outpouring of response from fans of the magazine, who, like a lot of others, have struggled due to the decline of advertising revenue resulting in the closure of numerous trade magazines in the last decade.

If the goal is met, TVNewsCheck promises expanded coverage of finance; regulation; audience measurement; and revenue, streaming, and programming strategies.

“We are journalists. We want to cover broadcasting’s ever-unfolding story as it seeks to create more content for a multimedia world, reinvent local news, develop new revenue streams, and navigate a challenging media ecosystem” TV NewsCheck said on Thursday.

If you’re interested in subscribing to TVNewsCheck, you can do so by clicking here.

The Colorado Rockies became the latest team to have their games produced by Major League Baseball for the 2024 season.

But unlike the Arizona Diamondbacks and San Diego Padres, whose rights reverted to MLB after bankrupt RSN Bally Sports wasn’t able to meet their financial obligations, the Rockies’ rights were held by AT&T Sportsnet, who shut down after this season.

The area has another operating RSN in Altitude who carries the NBA’s Denver Nuggets and the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche, but is not on many cable systems, including Comcast.

With the rights in hand, MLB is launching Rockies.TV, available to those who live in Colorado and surrounding states in the Rockies territories with a cost of $19.99 monthly or $99.99 yearly, with no home blackouts (excluding Fox and ESPN games.) For those who wish, they can bundle the subscription with MLB.TV to see other teams and pay $199.99 for the season.

“By offering a direct-to-consumer streaming option on Rockies.TV in the Club’s territory, MLB can lift the blackout for Rockies games previously distributed on AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain,” said Major League Baseball in a statement reported by KUSA Denver. But fans weren’t exactly warm to the idea given the Rockies have played poorly in recent seasons and has just one World Series appearance in 31 years.

Meanwhile, the Minnesota Twins opted to return with Bally Sports North for another season despite the RSN in bankruptcy as the team wasn’t interested in going the direct-to-consumer route with MLB. As a result, the team’s payroll will drop for the 2024 season as Bally was able to reduce its license fee to the team and games would not be available to stream unless they subscribe to Fubo or DirecTV as Bally doesn’t have streaming rights.

MLB now produces games for three teams in the National League West. The division’s other two teams have deals with traditional RSNs NBC Sports (San Francisco Giants) and Charter’s Spectrum SportsNetLA (Los Angeles Dodgers).

[Editor’s note: The second item was updated to further clarify what happened at the Toronto Raptors parade and to change some incorrect information regarding the number of titles Chicago teams won since 1986.]


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