Simmons Media Group

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Simmons Media Group
Type Private company
Industry Media
Founded 1977 (1977)
Founder(s) Roy W. Simmons
Elizabeth E. Simmons
Headquarters Salt Lake City, U.S.
Key people David Simmons, Chairman and CEO
Website www.simmonsmedia.com

The Simmons Media Group is a media company based in the United States. The company owns AM and FM radio stations, as well as outdoor advertising, a travel agency and an interactive agency.

History[edit]

Creation[edit]

Simmons Media Group (SMG) is a company rich with history and experience.[weasel words] SMG's predecessor company was organized in 1977 to purchase KSFI-FM in Salt Lake City, Utah by Roy W. Simmons, his wife Elizabeth E. Simmons, and their six family members. The purchase of KSFI-FM from Bonneville International Corporation was completed in early 1978. Craig Hanson, sales manager of the station prior to its purchase was promoted to general manager and has remained the chief operating officer of the company ever since.

Roy W. Simmons was already a prominent member of the Utah business community. in 1960 he led an investigation group that purchased the LDS Church's controlling interest in Zion's First National Bank, one of the West's oldest financial institutions having been originally founded by Brigham Young in 1873. Under Mr. Simmons' direction as president and later chairman, Zion's Bancorporation grew tremendously throughout Utah. After his retirement in the early 1990s, his son Harris Simmons significantly expanded the Bancorporation throughout the Western United States. Zions currently has assets of approximately $45 billion with over 450 branches throughout the West. Harris remains the chairman and CEO of the Bancorporation and the Simmons family remains a large shareholder of the publicly traded company.

Expansion[edit]

In 1985, David Simmons joined the company as president. David was tasked with growing and diversity the family's business interests from its dependence on its investment in Zions Bank. Working closely with Craig Hanson, David began looking for additional radio stations in the area to acquire and develop. Two years earlier the company had purchased an AM station in Salt Lake City, and in the next few years new stations in St. George, Utah, and Idaho Falls, Idaho, were acquired.

In 1987, the company purchased a majority interest in Bonneville Satellite Corporation, a broadcast services firm created by Bonneville International for radio and television broadcasters. Under David's direction this company (later named Keystone Communications) grew its revenues nearly tenfold and increased its enterprise value from $2 million to $106 million prior to its sale in 1996 to the France Telecom. Just prior to the France Telecom sale, Bruce Thomas joined the company as CFO. Following the sale Bruce opted to stay with SMG. Shortly afterwards, Keystone's controller, Bret Leifson, also joined SMG.

Deregulation and Development[edit]

When deregulation liberalized radio ownership rules SMG began pursuing additional radio properties. In 1993, KRSP-FM was acquired in Salt Lake City. A new classic hits format was launched and within the 18 months the purchase was paid for in its entirety. KRSP-FM also brought Alan Hague to the company. Alan, the former GM of KRSP-FM (a fellow radio fanatic and childhood friend of Craig Hanson's) oversaw all of the company's programming and operations. Steve Johnson, a very talented sales manager over the Salt Lake stations, was promoted to general manager in Salt Lake and oversaw the company's tremendous success in this market.

In 1995 and 1996, the company acquired a group of 5 FM and 2 AM stations in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and in 1997 and 1998 acquired 2 additional FM stations in the Salt Lake area. One of the new Salt Lake area FM stations was sold shortly thereafter at 3.5 times its purchase price. The other Salt Lake FM, KQMB-FM, was later sold to Bonneville in 2003 for nearly 4 times its original purchase price.

In 1997, the company also acquired KTND-FM, a station outside of Austin, Texas. The station broadcast a marginal signal over the Austin metro area but despite its coverage challenges, a newly recruited manager, Daryl O'Neal, began making a dramatic impact on the operating results. Within four years the station had paid for itself from cash flow and was worth over 5 times its purchased price. More importantly engineering upgrades were identified and solidified that allowed a better signal over the Austin metro. In 2002, the station was sold to HBC/Univision for $16 million plus the cost of the upgrade. Ultimately, the station provided a 9 times return of the original purchase price to the company.

In 1998, the company acquired KXRK-FM in Salt Lake City, Utah. The station had enjoyed the leading alternative position in the market, but had struggled to achieve a comparable revenue success. Within the first two years under its new ownership the station's net revenues had increased by nearly 40% and cash flow was up 75%.

Our[who?] management had considered various other media related investment opportunities, and, in 1998, they were presented with the chance to acquire a local outdoor advertising company with several dozen billboard faces in Utah. After initially having a rough start, we[who?] promoted Kurt Horan, a former bank credit analyst working with Bruce Thomas, to head up the small outdoor division. Kurt quickly developed a lean, profit driven model that maximized cash flow, minimized development risks, and quickly began producing strong operating results. Since 1998, the outdoor division has seen its total faces, revenue, and cash flow each increase roughly tenfold.

The company's purchase in 1985 of an AM/FM combo in Idaho Falls was the only time the company lost money buying radio stations. Due largely to a strong competitor led by Jim Burgoyne, the company experienced a real challenge. Six years later the stations were sold for less than half the original purchase price and for years David and Craig vowed never to cross the Utah-Idaho borders again. But in 2001 Marathon Media's cluster of six stations in Idaho Falls, Blackfoot, and Pocatello, Idaho were offered sale. Managed by Jim Burgoyne, the same competitor that had cost the company a considerable amount, the Marathon cluster represented the region's strongest radio group. The purchase ended up being hugely successful. Under Burgoyne's direction revenues and cash flow increased substantially and two years later the cluster was sold to Bonneville International.

Jim Burgoyne also oversaw the company's small cluster of stations in St. George after joining the company. The initial two stations purchased in 1986 and later augmented to two additional properties in 2001 were also sold to Bonneville in a 9-fold return on invested capital.

Two additional stations were added to the company's Salt Lake City cluster in 2000 with the winning bids on new licenses in an FCC auction. KYMV-FM was initially licensed to cover the northern part of the Salt Lake metro but after an engineering upgrade and accommodations provided by another broadcaster, KYMV-FM was able to relocate its transmitter site to Humpy Peak, an alternative tower site serving the Salt Lake metro described more fully below. The company also ended up purchasing KXOL-AM, an AM station serving the northern Utah area as part of the negotiated upgrade in service. The license for KEGA-FM was also purchased in the FCC auction with its transmitter at Humpy Peak as well.

In 2001 and 2002, opportunities arose to purchase additional stations in Southeast Idaho and Southern Utah. Due to FCC ownership restrictions the company was unable to directly purchase or manage additional stations in these markets, but working with another local broadcast, Kent Frandsen, minority investments in two new entities were made. Canyon Media was formed in St. George and Sand Hill Media was formed in Idaho Falls. The company acquired a 30% non-voting ownership in both entities in exchange for a guarantee on the new companies' initial debt.[1]

Radio stations[edit]

Salt Lake City, Utah[edit]

  • KUUU-92.5 FM- Format: Rhythmic/Hip-Hop
  • KXRK-96.3 FM - Format: Alternative Rock
  • KEGA-101.5 FM - Format: Country
  • KYMV- 100.7 FM - Format: Adult Hits/80s music
  • KUDD- 107.9 FM - Format: Top 40/CHR

St. George, Utah[edit]

  • KRQX-FM-98.9 FM - Format: Alternative Rock
  • KURR-FM-103.1 FM -format: CHR

Employees[edit]

  • David Simmons - Chairman and CEO
  • Craig Hanson - President and COO
  • Bret Leifson - Vice President/ Controller

References[edit]

External links[edit]