Re: Buh-Bye Bonneville - Hello Hubbard

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Posted by Charlie McCarthy on May 02, 2011 at 16:13:28:

In Reply to: Buh-Bye Bonneville - Hello Hubbard posted by Drews Grecian Formula on May 02, 2011 at 00:21:50:

Bye-bye to Bonneville: Hubbard becomes Chicago radio big shot

May 2nd, 2011 @ 12:00 am

With the stroke of a pen Friday, Bonneville International exited Chicago after more than 40 years as one of the city’s most successful and admired radio companies.

By closing on its $505 million acquisition of 17 Bonneville stations in four cities, Hubbard Broadcasting became the new owner here of hot adult-contemporary WTMX-FM (101.9), classic rock WDRV-FM (97.1) and its simulcast outlet WWDV-FM (96.9), and adult contemporary WILV-FM (100.3).

To listeners of the Mix, the Drive and Rewind, as they’re known respectively, the ownership change was scarcely noticeable — except for “Hubbard Radio” replacing the Bonneville name in top-of-the-hour station identifications. “From an operational standpoint, there’s no difference at all,” said Drew Horowitz (pictured left), the 35-year Chicago radio veteran who shifted from executive vice president of Bonneville to chief operating officer of Hubbard Radio. He’ll continue to be based in Chicago.

Overnight the move transformed Hubbard into the ninth largest revenue-producing radio group, adding top stations in Chicago, Washington, D.C., St. Louis and Cincinnati to its modest group of four outlets in Minneapolis, where the family-owned company began in 1923. Its holdings also include 12 TV stations and several cable and satellite networks.

Key to the transaction was acquiring Bonneville’s leadership team — described by Hubbard Radio chairman Ginny Hubbard Morris as “the best in the business” — from CEO Bruce Reese to senior vice president of programming Greg Solk. “What Hubbard wanted was what they bought, which is our management expertise, our operational expertise, and our assets exactly as they are,” Horowitz said. “That was always the driving force in this deal. Their first words to us were: ‘Don’t do anything different because we don’t want you to mess up a great thing.’ ”

Horowitz described Hubbard as a “very people-friendly, family-run corporation” whose broadcast philosophy matches that of Bonneville and its parent company, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. “From a values standpoint, the values of the Hubbard family and Hubbard Broadcasting are no different than those of the [Mormon] Church,” he said. “I don’t think they would be any more tolerant of us putting something on that would be offensive or inappropriate — nor would we choose to put that on, because that’s not how we run. If it wouldn’t run for Bonneville, it’s not doing to run for Hubbard either.”

Perhaps the only exception is when it comes to casino and state lottery commercials. Owing to its Mormon credo, Bonneville banned ads for any form of gambling on its radio stations. Horowitz said Hubbard will accept them.

One vestige of past ownership that will remain on the Mix is Music and the Spoken Word, the long-running Sunday morning showcase for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

For Horowitz, 58, who first joined Bonneville in 1992 as general sales manager of the Mix, the shift to Hubbard Radio has been energizing: “I could have retired from Bonneville,” he said. “But I still love what I do. Why would I not want to be doing this? I look around at all the people in this city who’ve worked for me, and that’s my legacy. I have a few more good years left to do that.”

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