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Deseret Management Corp., a for-profit arm of the LDS Church, has agreed to sell 17 Midwest and East Coast radio stations for a hefty price it couldn't turn down, DMC chief executive Mark Willes said Wednesday.
Hubbard Broadcasting Co. will pay $505 million for the stations in Chicago, Cincinnati, St. Louis, and Washington, D.C. All are owned by Bonneville International, the Salt Lake City-based broadcast group whose parent company is DMC.
"It was a good, strong price in a market that hasn't had many of those for several years now," Willes said.
The stations weren't for sale when Hubbard, a family-owned media company with 12 television and four radio stations, approached DMC.
"They came to us and asked us if we would consider it. When they indicated the amount of money they were talking about ... that caused us to say we better take this seriously," Willes said.
Willes said Bonneville intends to stay in the radio business, which wasn't damaged as much by the recession as were newspapers and TV stations.
Bonneville will keep its remaining 10 stations, all in western U.S. cities Los Angeles, Phoenix, Salt Lake City and Seattle.
Except for Bruce Reese, CEO of Bonneville, and Chief Operating Officer Drew Horowitz, who both will join Hubbard, station managers and staff of the western stations will stay at their jobs.
Jeff Simpson, chief operating officer of DMC's KSL Broadcasting Group, will oversee the remaining Bonneville stations.
DMC plans to increase the regional and online visibility of the remaining stations by linking them with its websites, Willes said. DMC sites reach more than 7 million users in eight western states, according to the company.
The sale is subject to regulatory approval. Willes expects the deal to close in April or May.
Most of the proceeds will go to the Mormon Church, he said.