Businesswoman to purchase WWIN for $4.7 million


A Washington radio station owner with dreams of establishing a broadcasting empire has signed a second contract to purchase WWIN 1400 AM and 95.9 FM, this time for $4.7 million.

Cathy Hughes had agreed to buy the Baltimore station for $6.3 million last fall, but changed her mind in December, noting that "it's a lender's market." Although Ms. Hughes forfeited a $200,000 down payment, the wait paid off handsomely in the form of a $1.6 million drop in WWIN's value when the second pact was inked last month.

WWIN is currently owned by Philadelphia radio impresario Ragan Henry, who owns 26 stations around the country. With Federal Communications Commission approval, the change in ownership will become final in late November.

WWIN features a black-oriented pop format, known in radio industry lingo as urban contemporary.

Ms. Hughes gave the credit for the latest deal to her son, Alfred C. Liggins III, who heads their radio holding company, Radio One Broadcasting Inc.

Washington stations WOL, 1450 AM, and WMMJ, 102.3 FM, fall under Radio One's umbrella.

"We're definitely coming back," Mr. Liggins, 26, said yesterday. "The station [WWIN] is doing significantly better than it was the last time we looked at it, in terms of ratings and revenues. We had never abandoned the thought of going into the Baltimore market or buying that particular station.

"The fact that we walked away from the deal last time, even though we had financing in place, sort of said to everybody that we were looking for a better deal," Mr. Liggins said.

He'll shuttle back and forth between Baltimore and Washington to oversee Radio One's broadcast interests, Mr. Liggins said, allowing his mother to concentrate on her successful morning talk show on WOL.

From the Philadelphia offices of Ragan Henry Broadcasting Inc., Mr. Henry said he was sorry to be leaving the Baltimore market.

WWIN was one of three radio stations he purchased with a partnership that is splitting up, Mr. Henry said. The other outlets, in Richmond, Va., and Washington, have been sold.

"Cathy's obviously a good [radio station] operator," Mr. Henry said yesterday.

"Alfred Liggins has a very bright future -- he's young, but knowledgeable and has a lot of energy. I think the two of them together make a very good team."

The $1.6 million decline in WWIN's asking price "reflects changes that have occurred in what broadcast stations are worth," Mr. Henry said.

Whereas radio stations were selling at 12 to 15 times their cash flow in late 1990, he said, by August the figure was around seven to eight times cash flow.

Not born to wealth but determined to make her mark in the world of radio, Ms. Hughes bought WOL in 1980 for $1.5 million.

The purchase of WMMJ took place seven years later at a price of $7.5 million.

She has said she wants to create a broadcasting chain, allowing her to help other blacks become broadcast property owners.

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