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VOL. 123 | NO. 238 | Friday, December 5, 2008

Entercom’s Move Done by Feb., GM Says

By Eric Smith

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SOUND WAVES: Dan Barron, general manager of Entercom Memphis LLC, joins WKQK-FM morning hosts Karen Perrin and Steve Conley in the booth Thursday morning. -- PHOTO BY ERIC SMITH

In 2006, Entercom Memphis LLC acquired three radio stations, doubling its broadcast footprint. Earlier this year, it signed a lease to move into 18,000 square feet at Moriah Woods business park, doubling its office space.

Now, the company has sold its current headquarters at 5904 Ridgeway Center, finally moving forward with its plans to consolidate all 115 of the company’s full- and part-time employees from two offices under one roof, completing its expansion plan.

The migration to Entercom’s new home – from both the Ridgway Center locale and space on Union Avenue – will begin in January and should be completed by the end of February, said general manager Dan Barron, who said the transition is a testament to the company’s commitment to enhancing its presence here.

“Moving into a new facility, where we are making tremendous capital investments and the upgrade through technology, is an example of investing in Memphis and investing in our broadcast programming,” he said.

Strategic positioning

Entercom Memphis, whose parent company is Bala Cynwyd, Pa.-based Entercom Communications Corp., operates local radio stations WMC-FM 100, WMC-AM 790, WMFS-FM 93, WRVR-FM 104, WSMB-AM 680 and WKQK-FM 94.

The company last week unloaded its headquarters, a 10,417-square-foot office building at 5904 Ridgeway Center, as well as an adjacent vacant parcel for $1.3 million to Boyle Investment Co. The Shelby County Assessor of Property lists the property as 5900 Ridgeway Loop Road.

The building was completed in 1982 and sits on 1.21 acres where Ridgeway Loop meets Ridgeway Center near the Poplar Avenue and Interstate 240 interchange. Its 2008 appraisal is $1.2 million. The second parcel is a small vacant lot (0.13 acres) to the east of the office building. Entercom Memphis had bought the building in December 1999 for $855,000 from Sinclair Radio of Memphis Inc.

Mark Halperin, executive vice president at Boyle, said Boyle was pleased to find Entercom a new space in Moriah Woods that meets its needs and also was thrilled to acquire a building that fits in with Boyle’s portfolio in Ridgeway Center.

“It’s very strategically located inside Ridgeway Center, which we own a lot of,” Halperin said. “It’s right at the main entry, the front door of the Ridgeway Center office park, which is right at the crosshairs of the whole community at Poplar and I-240,” Halperin said. “We just felt like it was important to have it.”

Kelly Truitt of CB Richard Ellis represented Entercom Memphis on the sale of the building, and Tom Hutton represented Boyle Investment.

Jack be nimble

As Boyle looks for a tenant to fill Entercom’s void in Ridgeway Center, Entercom is focused on relocating to its new digs. A major renovation of that space is nearly completed, and the company has begun the technical component of the build-out, including adding new radio equipment for its six stations.

“One of the advantages to this move, one of natural occurrences as we migrate out of the Ridgeway and Union buildings, where both groups of stations have been entrenched for so many years, is it provides us the opportunity to invest in greater technology,” Barron said. “We’ll be able to upgrade our broadcast facilities to state-of-the art, 21st century technology, so we’ll have all new equipment over there. It will be as easy as, hopefully, flipping a switch.”

The Crump Firm Inc. designed the tenant build-out at Moriah Woods, and Montgomery Martin Contractors LLC is handling construction.

In addition to the new equipment, Entercom is looking forward to a larger space in a central location; Moriah Woods is at the Mount Moriah Road and Interstate 240 interchange, providing good access for employees as well as listeners who visit to pick up prizes won on-air.

The move also comes on the heels of some changes to the company’s stations. Entercom’s WMFB-AM 680 station this year became an ESPN affiliate, and its WKQK-FM 94 recently changed formats to classic hits, bringing onboard longtime disc jockeys Steve Conley and Karen Perrin to host its morning show.

For Barron, a radio veteran and native Memphian who took over the general manager position in February, all these changes have been swift, but he knows a frenzied pace comes with running one of the area’s largest broadcast companies.

“Every day in radio is a bit of a whirlwind, especially when you’ve got six radio stations,” he said. “I’m very gratified for the employees. Getting everybody under one roof will give us advantages to be able to move more quickly and be more nimble.”

RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 56 56 9,658
MORTGAGES 49 49 10,665
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 0 0 1,289
BUILDING PERMITS 212 212 21,170
BANKRUPTCIES 49 49 6,157
BUSINESS LICENSES 34 34 3,973
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 0 0 2,892
MARRIAGE LICENSES 28 28 2,049