NYT Co. to Sell Off $45 Million in Radio Stations

In a complicated deal, financially troubled The New York Times Co. has agreed to sell WQXR-FM to Univision Radio and WNYC Radio for $45 million. In the end, the three-way deal is expected to keep WQXR’s 73-year legacy of classical radio alive in New York, though its programming will move to a weaker frequency.

Univision will pay $33.5 million to exchange the frequency of WCAA-FM for the frequency of WQXR-FM. As a result, Univision will move Latin Urban (“La Kalle”) WCAA-FM to the 96.3 frequency currently occupied by WQXR. WNYC Radio will pay $11.5 million for the WCAA 105.9 frequency, the WQXR call letters and Web site.

The transaction is expected to close in the second half of this year.

“We are very pleased that this transaction will preserve WQXR’s ability to serve New York City’s classical music audience and its cultural institution as a public radio station,” said Janet Robinson, president and CEO of The New York Times Co., which exits the radio business with the sale of WQXR.

WNYC, which also programs some classical music programming, has begun a campaign to fund the purchase of the 105.9 frequency and equipment. It will now operate WQXR as listener-supported public radio station.

The stronger frequency for WCAA allows the station to reach a much larger audience, putting Univision in an improved, competitive position to take on Spanish Broadcasting System’s two higher-rated FMs, WSKQ-FM and WPAT-FM.

“This transaction provides the Hispanic population of New York and the surrounding area with more diversity in music, entertainment and news, while classical music will continue to have a home,” said Gary Stone, president and chief operating officer for Univision.  

The Times Co. announcement did not say what the proceeds of the sale and swaps will be used for, but it is carrying $1.09 billion in debt and recently stopped paying stock dividends to devote cash flow to paying off its loans. It has also put some assets up for sale, including The Boston Globe and a sibling paper in Massachusetts.

–with additional reporting by Mark Fitzgerald, Editor and Publisher