John Catsimatidis, the billionaire host of AM-970 radio show “The Cats Roundtable,” has acquired 77 WABC radio for $12.5 million.
The station was purchased by Red Apple Media, a subsidiary of Castimatidis’ Red Apple Group, from Atlanta-based Cumulus Media, the New York Post reported.
“I grew up with WABC,” Catsimatidis told the newspaper. “It’s an iconic channel. We want to bring it back to being a great station.”
He did not indicate any immediate plans for change at the station, which is one of the city’s oldest.
Catsimatidis, a politically-connected mogul who made headlines in mid-June for reportedly rejecting Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s request to contribute to his campaign, added that he hopes to buy more radio stations in the future.
“I started a radio show five years ago, which is now available in 14 states and on the internet,” he said. “It has gained a large and loyal audience.”
Catsimatidis, tapped by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to lead a fundraising campaign to rebuild a Greek Orthodox church at Ground Zero (he was born on the Greek island of Nisyros), becomes the latest in a series of local real estate tycoons to snap up media assets.
In December, developer Charles Cohen struck a deal to acquire the Landmark Theatres chain for an undisclosed sum, and current White House senior adviser Jared Kushner famously paid $10 million to buy to buy the New York Observer in 2006. (The Real Deal reported in January on the side hustles of some prominent industry players.)
Catsimatidis, who in 2015 made an unsuccessful play to buy the New York Daily News, has said he intends to use his media voice and contacts to help Biden, downplaying the brief discussion he had with the former vice president at a fundraising event earlier this month.
“I think Joe Biden is the most common sense nominee of the 23 people running in the Democratic Party,” he recently told CNBC. “Monetarily, I did not commit to helping him, but I will help him brotherly, on my radio show and with all my media contacts.” [New York Post] — Sylvia Varnham O’Regan