Joining Forces

Mary Katharine Ham
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Posted: Apr 11, 2006 2:37 PM

The good folks at Salem Communications, the good folks at Townhall.com, myself, and Hugh have an announcement to make: (emphasis mine)

SALEM COMMUNICATIONS TO ACQUIRE TOWNHALL.COM
Salem Expands News Talk Radio Platform into New Media with Addition of Leading Conservative Opinion Website

LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--April 10, 2006--Salem Communications (Nasdaq:SALM), a leading U.S. radio broadcaster, Internet content provider and magazine publisher targeting audiences interested in faith, family and values, announced today that it has agreed to acquire Washington D.C.-based Townhall.com, a leading online source for conservative news and opinion.

Founded in 1995, Townhall.com offers content from more than 115 member groups and commentary from the world's best known and most respected conservative writers to create the destination of choice for conservatives interested in public policy and current events.

According to NielsenNetRatings, Townhall.com serves more than 1.2 million unique visitors and generates 12 million page views each month.

Edward G. Atsinger III, president and chief executive officer of Salem, said, "The acquisition of Townhall.com fits with Salem's strategy of integrating our traditional radio platform with new media assets that serve the same target audience. This leading news and conservative opinion website combined with our News Talk radio stations and nationally syndicated talk show network gives us the ability to share and repurpose content.

"The acquisition also provides a highly effective means to promote across a multi-media platform. We see an opportunity to significantly grow the Townhall.com brand while broadening the exposure and popularity of our News Talk radio hosts and radio stations."

Jim Cumbee, president of Salem's non-broadcast media, said, "Given Salem's strong presence in conservative news talk radio, we have been evaluating how best to expand the reach of this platform into the Internet space.

Under the leadership of Salem's Director of Online Strategy, Chuck DeFeo, we had developed a comprehensive News Talk web site that we were about to launch when we learned about the Townhall.com opportunity. Under Chuck's continued leadership, we will integrate the content and functions we had planned for our own web site with the comprehensive content and rich heritage of Townhall.com."

Salem owns and operates 34 radio stations programmed in a conservative News Talk format including stations in 24 of the top 25 markets. Through Salem Radio Network (SRN), the company syndicates some of the nation's most popular conservative talk radio hosts including Bill Bennett, Mike Gallagher, Dennis Prager, Michael Medved and Hugh Hewitt. Content from these hosts will be integrated with content from Townhall.com.

Douglas Wilson, Ph.D, chairman of Townhall, said, "Townhall.com brings Internet users, conservative public policy organizations, congressional staff and political activists together under the broad umbrella of conservative thoughts, ideas and actions.

"Salem Communications is an ideal home for Townhall.com because of its substantial radio platform and dynamic and profitable web properties. The future for Townhall.com is bright, and member groups and users will appreciate how the web site can be more fully developed and promoted."

Dr. Wilson will continue as chairman of Townhall.com and will be a regular columnist on the site.

Townhall's editor-in-chief, Jonathan Garthwaite, will continue to serve in this capacity reporting to DeFeo. Members of Townhall.com will continue to have access to the site and will see no interruption of service during the period of transition.

So, this is pretty sweet for many reasons, not the least of which is that I get to work with my buddies at Townhall once again.

Some of you may know, but I wrote for Townhall before I came to Salem late last year to work on the planned launch of BeyondtheNews.com, the site referred to in the seventh graf of the press release, and mentioned in my intro post on this blog. (Remember, back when I was supposed to be here for a month and a half? Hugh and y'all have been very, very kind to let me hang around so long. Thank you.)

But in addition, Salem and Townhall put together can serve conservatives in a traditional talk radio format and online, seamlessly leading radio listeners from listening to the radio to acting on the web, from hearing the news to blogging, podcasting, and influencing the news of the nation.

In fact, I think we just became the Optimus Prime of conservative politics. Now that I think of it, I'm wondering why that's not in the press release. That's a pretty great selling point.

More than meets the eye.

I'm very excited about this. I hope y'all enjoy, as soon as everything is integrated and new and improved. We've been working very hard.