Lowry Mays Useless: Radio Veteran and Clear Channel Founder Was 87

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Lowry Mays, the San Antonio entrepreneur who turned Clear Channel Communications, the predecessor to iHeartMedia, into the biggest broadcasting conglomerate of the post-consolidation period, died on Monday (Sept. 12) at 87 in his hometown.

Mentioned iHeartMedia CEO Bob Pittman: “We constructed this firm on the muse and imaginative and prescient created by Lowry Mays. He began all of it from a single station in San Antonio — and have a look at iHeart immediately.”

Mays was an funding banker sporting a Harvard MBA when he based the San Antonio Broadcasting Firm in 1972 with native automobile dealership proprietor Crimson McCombs (who went on to personal stakes within the San Antonio Spurs, Denver Nuggets and Minnesota Vikings), buying a single station, KEEZ, and including WOAI in 1975. The latter was dubbed a “clear channel” station as a result of no different operated on its frequency and its 50,000-watt sign might be heard 1000’s of miles away on a “clear” evening.

Over the following a number of years the corporate purchased 10 extra struggling radio stations and made them worthwhile, normally by switching the codecs to non secular or speak programming. Their first non-San Antonio acquisition was KPAC in Port Arthur, Texas, upgraded with a 2,000-ft. tower construct close to Devers, Texas to cowl Houston, however ultimately bought.

After renaming it Clear Channel Communications and going public in 1984, the corporate expanded into tv and grew exponentially due to the passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 underneath then-President Invoice Clinton, lifting the nationwide caps on broadcast possession in every particular person market, clearing the way in which for the huge consolidation to observe. With an infusion of personal fairness funds, Mays’ Clear Channel ultimately owned greater than 1,200 radio stations and 41 TV stations throughout the U.S., buying properties together with Jacor and AMFM, amongst others. The corporate additionally expanded into out of doors promoting in addition to live performance and reside occasion promotions by way of its acquisition of Robert F.X. Sillerman’s SFX Leisure.

“He noticed a enjoying discipline that nobody else noticed,” stated Emmis founder/CEO Jeff Smulyan, via InsideRadio. “And he noticed it earlier than everyone else.”

After struggling a stroke in 2005, Mays stepped down as Clear Channel CEO, with son Mark taking the reins. Clear Channel went non-public after a leveraged buyout by Bain Capital and Thomas H. Lee Companions. Within the interim, the corporate divested its tv properties, modified its identify to iHeartMedia, filed for chapter, emerged from Chapter 11, spun off its out of doors and reside occasion divisions, made an aggressive transfer into podcasting and digital, and laid off a lot of its workforce.

Mays, a Texas A&M alum, contributed virtually $50 million to the college, with its Mays Enterprise Faculty named after him. He was inducted into the Radio Corridor of Fame in 2004 in recognition of his affect on the enterprise.

Nationwide Affiliation of Broadcasters Pres./CEO Curtis LeGeyt paid tribute to Mays’ legacy by way of a press release: “NAB is saddened by the passing of Lowry Mays, a trailblazing icon whose historic profession revolutionized and reshaped the broadcasting business. He based and constructed one of many foremost media corporations on this planet by way of daring and revolutionary considering, whereas his philanthropic and beneficiant spirit helped numerous individuals throughout his lifetime of service. We prolong our deepest condolences to the Mays household and the iHeartMedia neighborhood.”

Broadcasters Basis of America Chairman Scott Herman stated: “BFA mourns the lack of one its longtime supporters, Lowry Mays. One among radio’s most outstanding leaders, Mays established the Lowry Mays Excellence in Broadcasting Award, bestowed yearly on the BFA breakfast to a person whose work in broadcasting exemplifies innovation, neighborhood service, advocacy, and entrepreneurship. We ship our condolences to the Mays household.”

Added iHeartMedia’s Pittman: “He was a form and caring one that influenced numerous lives by way of his generosity. He will likely be missed, at the same time as his legacy lives on by way of iHeart.”

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