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The Street
The Street
Charley Blaine

Audacy, 2nd largest radio operator, files for bankruptcy protection

No matter where you are and listening to the radio, from New York to Seattle or Sacramento to Atlanta, the odds are you have listened to a station owned by Audacy or a station that's part of the Audacy network of stations. 

Once known as Entercom, it changed its name to Audacy in 2021, trumpeting its position as "a scaled multi-platform audio content and entertainment company."

Among its biggest holdings are KROQ and KRTH101 in Los Angeles and two big New York stations: 1010 WINS and sports station WFAN.

Related: Top analysts deliver a blunt warning about Apple's stock

But the radio business has changed in recent years and not for the good. Streaming is hurting radio badly. Ad revenue has been falling, and Audacy expanded way too much, taking on nearly $2 billion in debt that it couldn't service. 

Its stock price was so low that the New York Stock Exchange delisted it in November. The shares are now traded in what known as the Nasdaq Pink Sheets, using the ticker symbol AUDA.

Sunday morning, the company announced it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Houston, Texas. The move won't affect day-to-day operations, the statement said, but the move will wipe out the position of existing shareholders.

The company had signalled the move was coming.

The bond holders will be the owners of the company, and debt will be cut from $1.9 billion to $350 million. Some creditors will add $57 million in news financing. It is expected that shares of existing shareholders will be cancelled.

A perfect storm of macroeconomic challenges

In a statement, CEO David Field described the cause of the Chapter 11 filing: ". . . The perfect storm of sustained macroeconomic challenges over the past four years facing the traditional advertising market has led to a sharp reduction of several billion dollars in cumulative radio ad spending." 

The company reported a third-quarter 2023 loss of $234 million, or $49.64 a share, mostly due to writedowns. It also showed negative $83 million in funds from operations for the first nine months of 2023. 

The shares finished Friday at 20 cents, up a penny from Thursday. The shares had hit as high as $68 in 2000 and were at $16.15 in early 2017. 

The shares shot up from 6 cents to hit $2.15 in July 2023 on hopes the company could effect a reverse split, where 1 share would be substituted for 20, boosting the nominal price. The idea collapsed, however.

Meanwhile, the stock market enjoyed a banner year with the Standard & Poor's 500 Index (^IN) -) up 24.2%.

The company was founded as Entercom Communications in 1968 by Joseph Field, who is the father of David Field. It bought CBS Radio and its 117 stations in 2017.  


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