SBD/Issue 178/Sports Media

Snyder's Red Zebra Broadcasting Buys DC-Area Radio Stations

Snyder Completes Deal For
Three DC-Area AM Stations
Redskins Owner Daniel Snyder and Red Zebra Broadcasting, Snyder's radio group, yesterday reached a deal to buy three DC-area AM radio stations, including sports-talk station WTEM-AM, from Clear Channel Communications, according to Paul Farhi of the WASHINGTON POST. Red Zebra also acquired WTNT-AM and WWRC-AM, joining the company's portfolio that includes the three Triple X stations. The price of the acquisition was not disclosed. Red Zebra will assume control of WTEM on July 1, and Red Zebra CEO Bruce Gilbert said that all six company-owned stations starting this summer will carry Redskins games. Meanwhile, WTEM hosts Steve Czaban and Andy Pollin "wondered how much they'd be able to criticize" the Redskins under the new ownership. Gilbert said that his company "would encourage, 'within reason,' a freewheeling exchange of opinions." Gilbert added that Red Zebra "hasn't decided on any personnel or format changes" at the three stations (WASHINGTON POST, 6/5)"

COVERAGE AUDIBLE? In DC, Tim Lemke reports the deal means "every all-sports station in the DC area is under the control of the team, and that troubled some industry observers who worried about censorship of outspoken hosts." Industry consultant Charles Warner: "When a team owns a radio station, I don't think fans' needs are served at all. It's a terrible idea" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 6/5). In DC, Leonard Shapiro wrote WTEM's Brian Mitchell and Doc Walker have "always been brutally honest in their tough love commentary regarding [the Redskins], including strong criticism of the owner, team management and the coaching staff. ... The same goes for afternoon drive time co-host Steve Czaban." Shapiro: "You think Brian Mitchell and Doc Walker will be long for this world on WTEM once Red Zebra starts signing the checks?" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 6/3).

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