Merlin Media, which is backed by GTCR, said Monday that Walter Sabo was named COO. GTCR formed Merlin to buy majority stakes in three radio stations owned by Emmis Communications.
Merlin Media announced today the addition of media management leader, Walter Sabo, as COO. In his new role, Sabo will be responsible for managing the operations of the company.
Merlin Media was formed to acquire and operate media through a partnership between Chicago-based private equity firm GTCR and Emmis Communications, a diversified media company. The company begins with a base of three properties – two in Chicago and one in New York – and intends to develop a combination of media across the country.
“Walter has unparalleled experience and a true passion for this industry, making him a perfect fit to lead Merlin Media’s operations. He has founded two businesses of his own in Sabo Media and Hitviews, and that core competency will be hugely valuable to us,” said Randy Michaels, CEO of Merlin Media. “Success requires building brands that are unique, desirable and difficult to duplicate. Walter has the vision, intelligence, leadership skills, and experience to move Merlin beyond current convention and to take advantage of emerging media opportunities. It also means attracting special, talented people, and Walter knows how to do that.”
“We are attracting the best marketing and performing talent in all phases of the entertainment industry to build Merlin’s compelling assets,” said Sabo. “No other mass media company has our ability to innovate and then captivate a significant share of audience and revenue.”
Sabo founded the New York-based Sabo Media in 1984, where he consulted content in all media, most recently at Sirius XM Satellite. Sabo began his tenure there pre-launch, continuing for eight and a half years consulting on all programming initiatives. In this capacity, he organized and staffed the programming department, initiated attractive subscriber channels and participated in the aggressive recruitment of Howard Stern. Today, Sirius grosses over $3 billion annually. Sabo Media specializes in profitable content solutions for firms such as: Group W, RKO Radio, Newhouse Communications, Viking Publishing, Press Broadcasting, Greater Media, AMC Movie Theatres, Standard Broadcasting of Canada, The CHUM Group, Clear Channel Communications, Gannett, Infinity, Dow Jones, and many others.
In 2007, Sabo founded Hitviews, a marketplace that strategically places brand products and messages inside online videos conceptualized and executed by performers who have figured out how to attract millions of viewers to their videos. Sabo will continue his participation in Hitviews.
Prior to his current engagements, Sabo held executive positions with profit and loss responsibilities at ABC Radio Networks and NBC-owned FM stations that included premier properties in New York City, San Francisco, Chicago and Washington DC. Appointed to the position of Executive Vice President in charge of the FM Group by CEO Fred Silverman, Sabo became the youngest EVP in the history of NBC.
Sabo received his BA from the Newhouse School of Public Communications and the School of Arts and Sciences at Syracuse University.
About Merlin Media LLC:
Merlin Media LLC (www.merlinmediallc.com) was formed in June 2011 by leading private equity firm GTCR in partnership with Emmis Communications (NasdaqGS: EMMS), a diversified media company, and Randy Michaels for the purpose of acquiring and operating media assets. Merlin Media has signed definitive documentation with Emmis Communications to purchase WKQX-FM (101.1 MHz, Chicago, IL), WLUP-FM (97.9 MHz, Chicago, IL) and WRXP-FM (101.9 MHz, New York, NY).