The quick-growing radio giant
AMFM, formerly named Chancellor Media, is the nation's leading radio conglomerate in virtually every measurable way: revenue, broadcast cash flow, broadcast station count and listenership. The company was formed by the merger of Chancellor Broadcasting and Evergreen Media in 1997, and is the product of rapid growth through acquisition. The company changed its name to AMFM in 1999. In October 1999, the company announced that it was going to be acquired by fellow Texas behemoth Clear Channel for $23.5 billion. The acquisition is expected to be complete by September 2000.
This Texas-based radio company has sprouted up faster than a jackrabbit on hot tar since it was founded in 1993. AMFM owns and operates a total of 485 radio stations in 105 of America's largest markets. With a firm hold on the national front, AMFM has also made acquisitions in South America, and has plans to buy a 20 percent stake in Z Spanish Media Corp, which runs 22 American radio stations aimed at the Hispanic Market. The company already owns radio stations in Argentina, Chile and Venezuela, and purchased a 50 percent stake in Mexico's Grupo Radio Centro in July 1999.
The buds of AMFM
Thomas Hicks started Chancellor Broadcasting in 1993 with industry veteran Steven Dinetz. The men acquired two AM and FM stations in Sacramento, CA, and in the first four years they purchased 51 more stations in the top 50 markets, named Chancellor for the street that Dinetz grew up on. In 1996, Chancellor Broadcasting went public, and the following year finalized a merger with Evergreen Media Corp. Evergreen was another Texas-based radio company that started with six stations and had earned the same "jack rabbit" growth reputation from the industry as Chancellor. The merged entity was renamed Chancellor Media Corp, and shares of the new corporation were traded under the symbol AMFM. Later in 1997, the company acquired 10 radio stations from Viacom International, and several others from the Gannett Company and Bonneville International Corporation.
The company expands and contracts
In February 1998, the then-named Chancellor Media acquired two Washington DC stations, thus becoming the leading radio station group in that city. Of the five stations Chancellor Media owned in the New York City area, three were ranked in the local top ten. In 1997, the company purchased Katz Media Group, the only full-service media representation firm in the country that deals with radio as well as television and cable systems. In July 1998, founder Thomas Hicks announced plans to combine the radio company with LIN Television Corp., the first step towards building a new radio and television empire. (Hicks is the chairman of Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst, the parent company of LIN and Chancellor's leading shareholder.) Some Chancellor backers were in favor of the plan, with hopes that the new company would rival multimedia giants, akin to CBS in size and scope. Industry analysts said LIN had one of the strongest growth rates in the business, and that the merger would complement Chancellor's strengths in radio and outdoor advertising. In the end, however, Chancellor scrapped the deal and began to refocus on its radio stations.
In June 1998, the company expanded into yet another advertising realm, with the purchase of outdoor specialist Martin Media - the seventh-largest company of its kind in the country. The company could offer competitively priced packages that combine advertising airtime with billboard space - and was very profitable as a result. The corporation was able to promote its own radio stations in the cities where Martin Media owned billboards. However, the national ban on tobacco billboards had a projected burn-off of 12 percent of the company's billboard revenues. As a result, the billboard operations were sold to Lamar Advertising for $1.6 billion and a 30 percent stake in Lamar. Radio accounts for 80 percent of the company's revenue and the its new name, AMFM, Inc. symbolizes the media group's decision to refocus on its core industry function. The company's $4.1 billion purchase of Capstar Broadcasting in 1999, the nation's leading broadcaster in medium-sized markets, expanded its radio influence to a power unmatched in the world.
Wedding bells in Texas
In October 1999 fellow Texan Clear Channel Communications, the third-largest U.S. radio station conglomerate, announced that it would buy AMFM for a cool $23.5 billion. The deal, which is expected to be finalized by September 2000, will create a massive new company with control over 800 stations nationwide and a presence in nearly every big-city market. Allaying potential antitrust objections to the pending merger, Clear Channel announced in March 2000 that it would sell 125 radio stations worth about $4.2 billion.
In July 2000 the two companies announced plans to sell 99 radio stations to ward off antitrust concerns; the stations to be sold have a value of $3.4 billion across 27 markets. The merged company will own or operate 898 stations.
Internet, here we come
AMFM expects to expand with typical speed onto the Internet. Three online services AMFMi, AMFM.com and AMFM Equities will, respectively, develop e-commerce, provide streaming media and invest in Internet companies. Moreover, in January 2000 the company launched the country's first all-tech radio format on one of its AM stations. In preparation for the proposed merger with Clear Channel, the company has begun to lay the groundwork for a huge e-business deployment. AMFMi is reported to be testing five major e-business components: interactive playlists; cutomized CDs; personalized Web pages tailored to individual listeners; localized home pages for use by community groups; and general e-commerce. The combined companies will operate over 800 stations in 200 markets (that's 100 million listeners), making for an impressive base upon which to build an e-commerce initiative.
Though each AMFM station operates pretty independently, you can write to the Director of Human Resources at the Irving, Texas headquarters for information on applying to a station in your area.
Work hard, play harder, adjust often
With the acquisition and sale of so many subsidiaries in such a short time, insiders say AMFM is definitely experiencing growing pains. However, "the quality of management has improved our business," said one source, "and now the best of the best are making the decisions." They say the management structure is "more professional," and that "procedures work better." It seems the regular employees are just as fabulous as the management. Employees describe their co-workers as "creative," "down-to-earth" people who "care about each other and love their work with a passion." Entry level pay is "competitive with other companies," which doesn't mean much when compared to other industries. However insiders say "you will usually start to make some pretty good money" after about two years on the job. In the meantime, employees are compensated with numerous perks, including things like "free movies, concerts, food, lift tickets and trips." Life at a AMFM subsidiary is "pretty much work hard, play harder," said one enthusiastic insider, "so I figured, okay the pay isn't great, but my entertainment is handled."
Crowd pleasing network
Another benefit of the company's size: "career opportunities have expanded to a hundred stations for each company employee." Employees rave that AMFM is a place where employees don't just get jobs, they build careers. "Moving up is as easy as getting the experience, a good recommendation, and an opening at another of the many stations within the company." In addition, sources say treatment of women and minorities is "great," and point out that "women hold positions on all levels of the company, and many are Division Vice Presidents around the country."
Dress up a rank
Work hours are "standard if you have a standard job," while hours vary for on-air talent and news staff. The dress code at AMFM depends on where you work. In general, managers and people who deal with the public wear business attire, while those in programming dress more casually. "Air-talent's dress ranges from the bizarre to the abnormal." Insiders advise newcomers to the industry to "dress as if you were in the position you want to be promoted to." Keen advice for any job.
Operation of various media outlets
Clear Channel;Cox Enterprises;Deseret;Jancor Communications; Metro Networks;Sinclair Broadcast Group;Westwood One
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