One of Jeff Warshaw’s biggest issues last year — more deregulation to help battle the big, unregulated digital monsters — seemed to fizzle out.More
Westport, CT – July 16, 2019 — Connoisseur Media has just completed a management buyout in which members of management will now own substantially all of the company. This was the culmination of a series of strategic moves in which the company has also recently closed on transactions that added to its Connecticut holdings and also entered the Frederick, MD market.
“Mike Driscoll and I started the company 15 years ago with the purchase of FCC Construction Permits in an auction. It’s gratifying to now be able to work with our major investor, Perot Holdings, to buy their stake in the company. They’ve been terrific partners to us. We are looking forward to growing our company, and we are excited that members of our senior management team are now owners. Ultimately, many of our employees will become stakeholders”, said Warshaw.
“We feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with the best leadership team in the industry and two of the best leaders we have ever partnered with”, said Steve Blasnik of Perot Holdings.
About Connoisseur Media:
Connoisseur Media is headquartered in Westport, CT. Connoisseur owns/operates 23 radio stations in seven markets: Bridgeport, Stamford/Norwalk and New Haven CT; Nassau-Suffolk (Long Island) NY; Frederick, MD, Stroudsburg-Wilkes-Barre, PA and Billings, MT.
New York, New York – February 12, 2015 – The Broadcasters Foundation of America today announced the recipients of the 2015 Ward L. Quaal Leadership Awards, to be presented at the Foundation’s annual breakfast at 7:00AM on Wednesday, April 15 during the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Show in Las Vegas. This year, the Awards Breakfast moves to a new location, the Brahms Room in the Encore Hotel.
The 2015 Ward L. Quaal Leadership Awards Recipients are:
- David Barrett, Director, Hearst Corporation
- Don Curtis, Chairman & CEO, Curtis Media Group
- Herb McCord, President & Owner, Granum Communications Corp.
- Jane Mago, Former EVP & General Counsel, National Association of Broadcasters
- Al Primo, Creator, Eyewitness News, Education Television Fund, Inc.
- Jeff Warshaw, CEO, Connoisseur Media
The Leadership Awards are given annually by the Broadcasters Foundation in recognition of career contributions to the broadcast industry and the community at large, and are named in honor of iconic broadcaster Ward L. Quaal.
The breakfast, which is complimentary to all, is sponsored by Frank N. Magid Associates, Marketron, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), the National Association of Media Brokers (NAMB), the Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB), and the Television Bureau of Advertising (TVB). To registration, please contact the Foundation at 212-373-8250 or email@example.com.
Over the years, the Broadcasters Foundation has distributed millions of dollars to thousands of broadcasters and their families. Individual membership is only $150 a year. Individual donations can be made to the Guardian Fund, corporate contributions are accepted through the Angel Initiative, and bequests can be arranged through the Legacy Society. To learn more or to donate, please contact the Broadcasters Foundation at 212-373-8250 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.broadcastersfoundation.org.
About the Broadcasters Foundation of America:
The mission of the Broadcasters Foundation of America is to improve the quality of life and maintain the personal dignity of men and women in the Radio and television broadcast profession who find themselves in acute need. The Foundation reaches out across the country to identify and provide an anonymous safety net in cases of critical illness, advanced age, death of a spouse, accident, and other serious misfortune. The Broadcasters Foundation of America is a 501(c)3 Public Charity.
STAMFORD, CT May 14, 2014 Qantum Communications Corporation announced today that it has agreed to swap substantially all the assets of its 29 radio stations to Clear Channel Media and Entertainment in exchange for substantially all the assets of Aloha Trust (of which it is the beneficiary) radio stations WALK-AM/FM serving Long Island, NY. Qantum has also agreed, in a simultaneous closing, to sell the assets of WALK-AM/FM to Connoisseur Media. Both transactions are subject to Federal Communications Commission approval and other customary closing conditions.
Qantum’s radio stations include WCOD-FM, WCIB-FM, WXTK-FM and WEII-FM serving the Cape Cod, MA market; WWXM-FM, WGTR-FM, WRXZ-FM, WYNA-FM and WLQB-FM serving the Myrtle Beach, SC market; WEGX-FM, WJMX-FM, WDAR-FM, WZTF-FM, WRZE-FM, WJMX-AM, WWRK-AM and WDSC-AM serving the Florence, SC market; WYNR-FM, WQGA-FM, WBGA-FM, WHFX-FM, WGIG-AM and WMOG-AM serving the Brunswick, GA market; WKKR-FM, WMXA-FM, WCJM-FM, WZMG-AM, WTLM-AM and WPLV-AM serving the Auburn, AL and West Point, GA markets.
Qantum President Frank Osborn said, “We are very proud of all that our clusters have achieved. Each cluster is the leader in its respective market and reflects the talent, dedication and hard work of local management and staff. We will miss working with them, but felt this unique transaction was in the interests of our stockholders. It is rare when you find an instance where cooperation among three companies results in higher value for all.”
“We are honored to add WALK to our rapidly growing group of terrific properties” says Jeffrey D. Warshaw CEO of Connoisseur Media. “We look forward to continuing WALK’s heritage of commitment to Long Island.”
Media Venture Partners acted as broker on the transaction.
Qantum Communications was formed by Mr. Osborn along with partners Michael Mangan and Frank Washington to acquire and operate radio stations in medium and smaller sized markets throughout the United States.
Connoisseur Media owns/operates 39 stations and is in the process of acquiring stations in Hartford, CT. ¬†Connoisseur owns WKJY (K 98.3), WBZO (B-103), WWSK (The Shark) and WHLI in the Nassau-Suffolk metro.
Chief Financial Officer
Qantum Communications Corporation
Chief Executive Officer
Connoisseur Media LLC
Jeff Warshaw, featured in the August 5, 2013 Issue of Radio Ink Magazine
From Radio Ink:
Changing formats can be an agonizing decision for a GM. How many listeners will we alienate? How bad will they beat us up on social media? Do we have the marketing budget for a new launch? What will the advertisers think of our stability? Do we have to fire anyone? When companies own multiple stations in one market, it’s rare all of them are top performers. Connoisseur was running into this challenge at its Long Island cluster at 94.3 on the dial.
That all changed when CEO Jeff Warshaw decided he wanted to enter the Rock battle, a format WBAB-FM has dominated for three decades. As a result, “The Shark” was born. Nearly one year after its launch, the brass at Connoisseur are all smiles about “The Shark.” Early ratings have been very strong. Marketing of the product has created a nice buzz on the island. And, most importantly, revenue is up, according to Market Manager Dave Widmer. The station mixes classic rock music with newer rock music, which according to the research Connoisseur paid for, works with the younger demo.
Coleman Insights President and CEO Warren Kurtzman who helped Connoisseur with the launch said, “”Jeff Warshaw, Mike Driscoll, David Bevins and their team at Connoisseur continually demonstrate that doing Radio right generates ratings and revenue, with the launch of the Shark simply serving as the latest example of that.” We are proud to contribute to their success.””
Widmer says the numbers are so tremendous, so good, it almost borders on unbelievable. But, he adds, we’ve done our homework. “”It’s not a fluke. This is a radio station has some legs to it. Listening occasions are high, 6-8 a day. That’s a good sign. It’s more than buzz. As a GM, I want to know what I’m working with here. We’re out on the streets selling this. So we tell the story of how we got here by telling advertisers here’s what the problem was, here’s our research and here’s what we’ve executed. Connoisseur is not afraid to spend money on research and marketing.””
In addition to the research, Connoisseur has made a significant investment in marketing and promotion, according to Widmer. The station vehicle certainly gets noticed, Television campaigns have been running and artist concert fly-aways are part of the on the air. Amazingly, The Shark has accomplished all of this early success without a live morning show, giving some credence to the notion that consumers want more music and less talk. It also puts Widmer in an interesting position. How long does he go without a live morning team?
Listen to our Podcast with Connoisseur Long island Market Manager Dave Widmer on how to execute a successful format flip¬HERE.
You can listen to The Shark¬HERE
The station break is clearly over for Jeffrey Warshaw and the other executives of Westport-based Connoisseur Media, which has surged onto the scene with $100 million in Radio acquisitions in the last nine months. Warshaw, 48, has a long history in Radio, having built his first station at age 19 and following that up with Connoisseur Communications in 1993. That company eventually grew to 39 stations and was sold to Cumulus Broadcasting in 2000 for $258 million. Today, Warshaw, joined by his former Connoisseur Communications partners Michael Driscoll, Chief Financial Officer, and David Bevins, Chief Operating Officer, is again growing a Radio empire, this time under the Connoisseur Media brand.
“We’ve seen great opportunity,” Warshaw, said. “It’s a special time. There are tons of stations for sale. These (the Connecticut ones) are great stations with great heritage in the market and great facilities.” Last week, Connoisseur announced a deal to buy WPLR, Star 99.9 and WFOX, the Fox, from Cox Media. All three stations have offices on Wheelers Farms Road in Milford. They operate throughout the state and region, sharing some programming, like Chaz and AJ, the morning team on WPLR, a rock station; and The Fox, a hot adult contemporary station. Star 99.9, which covers Fairfield County, has the Tad Show for the morning drive to compliment its classic rock format. All the stations have their own websites.
Warshaw and Driscoll had been working primarily on the investment side of media during the five years between Radio gigs. An 18-year resident of Westport, Warshaw said it’s nice to own stations in his own backyard. As far as any changes at the stations, he said, the only thing he plans to change is the name above the logo, adding he’s pleased with the formats and the community involvement. “Good Radio is good Radio,” he said.
The Connecticut radio station purchases came at a good price, he said, but when he and Driscoll fired up Connoisseur Media in 2005, it wasn’t a buyer’s market. They plunged ahead by building radio stations from scratch, and created six in Montana. Then, as the economy changed, prices came down and the company has been able to expand. Along with its Montana properties, it has stations in Pennsylvania, New York, Nebraska, South Dakota, New Jersey and Kansas. If the Connecticut deal, valued at $40 million, is approved by the Federal Communication Commission, you’ll be able to drive from New Haven to Philadelphia and always have a Connoisseur station on.
There is unlikely to be any job loss from this acquisition. Cox was based in Atlanta, so corporate functions for the stations will just be shifting to Westport, while the stations’ other functions remain based in Milford. One thing that attracted Connoisseur is that these are popular stations with legacies in the community. And local advertisers have embraced the stations. Newtown Savings Bank advertises with them, so does Park City Ford in Bridgeport, while plastic surgeon Dr. Stanley Frost, who has an office in Greenwich, also buys time from the stations.
Dan Long, marketing director of Newtown Savings, said he doesn’t see the change in ownership affecting him as a listener or the bank as an advertiser. He hasn’t heard of any major changes to programming or advertising, and couldn’t see why they would make changes. “They’re great,” he said of the group of station sales people in Connecticut. “We’re very happy with the people and the service we get.”
One thing nice about the deal is it brings the corporate headquarters into the state and, Long said, “certainly, we do like to support the businesses in our community.” As for Warshaw, he sees his company’s role pretty clearly regarding these operations: “We are going to be guardians of these stations.”
Jeff Warshaw’s Connoisseur Media has struck a deal to buy the 10 remaining Nassau Broadcasting stations in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including the company’s top billing CHR WPST, Trenton, NJ (94.5). If a Delaware court approves, Connoisseur could begin operating the stations as soon as next week.
The stations were put up for auction in May, but debtholders Goldman Sachs, Fortress Capital and P.E. Capital retained the assets after no buyers did better than their $38.7 million credit bid. Connoisseur will assume that bid to buy the stations. The debtholders had other offers, but none as appealing. At the May auction Townsquare Media offered $16 million for WPST alone and Cumulus Media offered to buy classic hits “99.9 The Hawk” WODE-FM for $3 million to fill-out its Allentown, PA cluster. Connoisseur will get those two stations and eight others.
In Trenton it picks up religious WCHR (920) to go along with WPST. In the Allentown market besides WODE-FM Connoisseur also buys rock “107.1 The Bone” WWYY, sports “ESPN Radio 1230” WEEX and its simulcast WTKZ (1320), and religious “The Light 1160” WBYN. In the Wilkes Barre-Scranton market it gets hot AC WSBG (93.5) and talk WVPO (840). And Connoisseur gets the Spanish sports standalone WNJE, Flemington, NJ (1040).
The debtholders will go before U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Kevin Gross next week in Delaware asking that he clear Connoisseur to begin operating the stations under local marketing agreement until the sale closes. Connoisseur will pay LMA fees ranging from $100,000 to $500,000 a month depending on how long that process takes. It’s the second big ticket deal for Warshaw this year. In March he bought Barnstable Broadcasting’s four Nassau stations in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont to investment banker Bill Binnie and Great Eastern Radio CEO Jeff Shapiro who jointly bid $12.5 million is expected to close by the end of this week.