Audacy, which owns WFAN, WCBS, WINS and a slew of other New York radio stations (as well as Philadelphia’s WIP and other big outlets), is clearly in financial crisis. But it adamantly denied it is preparing to file for bankruptcy on Tuesday night.
“A blog post published today falsely claimed that Audacy’s CEO confirmed Audacy’s bankruptcy. That statement is categorically untrue,” the company’s official corporate Twitter account said on a quote tweet of Barstool honcho Dave Portnoy, of all people.
“Audacy intends to vigorously pursue all available remedies for false statements meant to cause damage to Audacy and its stakeholders.”
The Audacy account also tagged the account for WGBH, which is the NPR station in Boston. And partly responsible for the furor.
What appears to have happened here: Jerry Del Colliano, who founded the Inside Radio trade publication and now has his own subscription newsletter about the industry, tweeted a paywalled link that read “David Field confirms Audacy’s bankruptcy.” A few hours later, a WGBH news reporter — Henry Santoro — tweeted the same message with no attribution to Del Colliano. That tweet has since been deleted. But it gained traction before Audacy responded with a full-throated denial.
You have to take Audacy at its word, and the Boston NPR reporter’s tweet was definitely irresponsible. But Del Colliano is not just some random guy on Twitter. So we will see whether this proves to be a completely false report or just a premature one. Because bankruptcy is often just a tool in the toolbox for struggling parties. Ask the former President of the United States, for example.
What is clear: Audacy is hurting. Its stock price closed at 52 cents on Tuesday. It is in violation of New York Stock Exchange rules (below a buck per share) and is in danger of being delisted. And it just had a big round of layoffs nationally. Those layoffs did not appear to impact WFAN, which is currently back to steamrolling ESPN Radio New York. But if the company keeps slashing in an attempt to avoid Chapter 11, WFAN could eventually suffer.
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James Kratch can be reached at [email protected]