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Radio company files for bankruptcy

December 1, 2017
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A radio tower stretches into the sky. Photo via wikimedia.org

A national radio broadcasting company with eight stations in West Michigan has filed for bankruptcy.

Atlanta-based Cumulus Media, the parent company of five radio stations in Grand Rapids and three in Muskegon, said this week it filed voluntary petitions for re-organization under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code in The United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York.

The five radio stations in Grand Rapids are 107.3 FM WBBL, 96.9 FM WLAV, 1340 WJRW, 105.3 FM WHTS and 94.5 WTNR. The three radio stations in Muskegon are V100, WLCS and 97.5 The Champ.

Cumulus said it has entered into a Restructuring Support Agreement with about 69 percent of its secured lenders to reduce its debt by more than $1 billion.

"Our company did voluntarily choose to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which will allow us to reduce our debt," said Jeff Cartwright, VP and market manager, Cumulus Grand Rapids and Muskegon. "Cumulus is doing quite well operationally, and Chapter 11 will have no impact on our day-to-day operations. I can also confirm that operations, sales and programming across our Grand Rapids and Muskegon clusters will continue as normal."

Although the radio broadcasting company has seen an increase in ratings, revenue market share gains, improved employee satisfaction and reduced employee turnover, over the last several quarters, there has been a debt overhang left by previous years of underperformance, which remains a significant financial challenge it must overcome for its operational turnaround, according to Mary Berner, president and CEO, Cumulus Media.

The media company, which owns more than 400 stations in 90 U.S. markets, said it has enough money to support its operations and service its advertisers, vendors and affiliates during the period of restructuring .

“The actions we are taking today to address our balance sheet are a critical step forward for Cumulus,” Berner said. “We will use this restructuring process to relieve the financial constraints on our continued progress, allowing us to focus our resources on investing in our business and people to strengthen our competitiveness and ultimately drive growth.

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