5 March 2003
The last of Lady Bird's radio empire
LBJS Broadcasting, the six-station group in Austin controlled by the family of Lady Bird Johnson, is selling out. Emmis Communications, owner of 21 radio stations and Texas Monthly magazine, is buying the Johnson family's 50.1% interest for $105 million. (The S in LBJS, David and Bob Sinclair, retain their 49.9% equity, but Emmis has an option to buy them out after five years.)
Originally, there was just the one station: KTBC, a low-powered AM daytimer acquired by Lady Bird for $17,500 in 1943. Being married to a Congressman paid off, though; the FCC soon approved an upgrade to full-time operation and 5000 watts. KTBC-TV soon followed, and by some strange coincidence it was the only commercial VHF TV allocation for Austin; competitors were forced to the struggling UHF band. (KTBC-TV is now owned by Fox Television Stations; the allocations haven't changed, though a UPN affiliate parked itself on channel 2 out in Fredericksburg, hoping to get audience from both Austin and San Antonio.)
The sale is subject to FCC approval, though no objections are expected. Flagship stations KLBJ-AM (formerly KTBC) and KLBJ-FM will retain their call letters.