Radio One Inc. is kicking up the volume as it makes moves to capture the listening ears of the entire east coast urban market. The Lanham, Maryland-based broadcasting company recently acquired Detroit-based Bell Broadcasting Co. for about $34 million.
With more than $50 million in revenues in 1997, Radio One Inc. is black-owned and currently owns and operates 14 radio stations in Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Atlanta and Philadelphia. But staking claim in Motown was a top priority, says Radio One Executive Vice President and CFO Scott R. Royster. “Our corporate strategy was to build our company nationally, and Detroit ranks among the top 30 in the African American market. Bell Broadcasting wasn’t performing at the same level as our other stations, which made them such an attractive acquisition to us.”
Negotiations to acquire black-owned Bell Broadcasting, holder of Detroit-based radio stations WCHB-FM, WCHB (AM) and WJZZ (AM), began in mid-1997. “There’s great history and culture within the Bell Broadcasting Co.,” says Cathy L. Hughes, founder and primary owner of Radio One. “We worked hard to assure them that we would have the same commitment and service to the African American listening community.”
This deal is one of many first steps for Radio One. In addition to Detroit, Hughes is targeting other radio stations in the top 30 African American markets across the country. The company is also flirting with taking the firm public in the next six to 12 months. “We’re strongly considering testing the public market. Going public enhances our viability and allows us to expand more rapidly,” says Royster. “We’re committed to taking this business to the next level.”