Another local business sells to its employees, joining the growing list


Another local business sells to its employees, joining the growing list

In 1996, Wendell and Lydia Stark asked to do business in Idaho. The couple filled out a form and wrote a check to the Idaho Secretary of State to start FM 104.7. That same year, they obtained an FCC license for a radio station in Twin Falls.

Now, 26 years later, the Starks will sell their radio holdings in Idaho – to their employees.

The Iliad Odyssey

FM 104.7 Co. FM became Idaho just a month after that initial filing in 1996. Along the way, Starks, who lives in Atlanta, Georgia, saw twists and turns that could create an entire radio news blog. FM Idaho eventually became Iliad Media Group, which owns more than a dozen radio brands in Boise and Twin Falls.

Wendell Stark, who grew up in Seale, Alabama, became chairman of major investment firm Invesco. But he and Lydia worked on radio investments, starting with the first band station in Twin Falls. They sold the company for $10 million in 2000 to an Oregon group, which also bought the Boise Hawks. But the Oregon group’s hopes for a radio station and a baseball team didn’t pan out, and Starks eventually got the stations back two years later.

Over the past two decades or so, the stations have gone by several names, including FM Idaho, Tester Broadcast Group, Locally Owned Radio and Impact Radio, before landing the Iliad name over the past decade.

CEO Darrell Calton joined the company in 2008 and reorganized the resort clusters, first in Boise and then in Twin Falls. In Boise, a small group of low-rated stations have moved to eight different formats, including market-leading stations 101.9 The Bull, 96.1 Bob FM and My 102.7.

Owned by local employees

Radio groups, like most media, are generally not locally owned. The owners of Boise’s other three major radio stations are not here, nor are commercial television stations, local newspapers or cable companies. (Another radio group in Twin Falls, Lee Family Broadcasting, is locally owned.) But Iliad’s 46 employees will own and control the company.

“One of the biggest concerns for me and ownership of the business was not year-over-year success, but decade-over-decade success,” Calton said. “Many independent business owners are wondering what to do in the face of the march of time in terms of succession and business planning. We are fortunate to have an owner who wants to recognize the efforts of our long-time employees and put the future of the business in our hands. We all need this ESOP business transition tool. »

Iliad joins a growing list of Idaho companies with ESOP ownership structures. The most famous, Winco Foods, with more recent additions such as Drake Cooper, Commercial Tires, Tate’s Rents and Burden’s.

The ESOP model essentially functions as a retirement plan that uses business income to fund the retirement fund of employees – or more specifically, owners.

“Employee ownership will allow us to live our values ​​of putting people first, leading with creativity and acting with integrity,” Calton said. “The work we do every day has a deeper purpose and will impact our communities more than ever.”

Iliad said it joins three other radio groups nationwide under employee ownership.

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