KXAN ownership change set for Friday

Austin-based LIN Media is merging with Media General.
Austin-based LIN Media is merging with Media General.

Media General’s merger with Austin-based LIN Media has been approved by the Federal Communications Commission, clearing the way for the $1.6 billion deal to close Friday, the two companies said.

LIN Media owns or operates about 50 TV stations across the country, including three in Austin: NBC affiliate KXAN, CW affiliate KNVA and MyNetworkTV affiliate KBVO.

The combined company will use the Media General name, be traded on the New York Stock Exchange using Media General’s MEG ticker symbol and will be based out of Media General’s headquarters in Richmond, Va., although some corporate employees will continue to call Austin home.

First announced in March, the merger took nearly nine months to work its way through the federal approval process, including a review by the U.S. Department of Justice. To allay regulators’ concerns, the two companies agreed to sell off some stations in five cities where both LIN Media and Media General operate: Birmingham, Ala.; Mobile, Ala.; Savannah, Ga.; Providence, R.I.; and Green Bay, Wis.

“We will now move forward to quickly integrate our operations and build upon our shared values for providing relevant local journalism and deep community engagement, both of which strengthen our ties to viewers and advertisers,” J. Stewart Bryan III, chairman of the Media General board, said in a written statement. “The powerful combination of two strong local television broadcasters enhances our leadership position as we compete in the rapidly evolving media landscape, thus enabling us to deliver greater shareholder value.”

Post-merger, Media General will own or operate 71 stations in 48 cities, reaching 27.5 million U.S. households.

“The new Media General will have significant national reach and scale, numerous synergies, a diversified portfolio and, importantly, opportunities to grow our industry-leading digital business,” said LIN Media president and CEO Vincent Sadusky, who will take over as president and CEO of Media General. “We have an experienced and talented management team that is already hard at work on plans to bring our two great, complementary cultures together.”

KUTX birthday bash set for Jan. 31

KUTX will celebrate its second birthday with a concert Jan. 31.
KUTX will celebrate its second birthday with a concert Jan. 31.

Radio station 98.9 KUTX-FM will celebrate its second birthday next month with a concert at Bass Concert Hall.

The show, which is set for Jan. 31, will feature Jenny Lewis, tUnE-yArDs and Shakey Graves.

Tickets go on sale Wednesday to KUTX donors and Friday to the general public. Prices range from $59.50 to $150, according to the Texas Performing Arts website.

Each year, KUTX says it hosts more than 300 live music performances at its studios, in addition to special shows during the Austin City Limits Music Festival and South by Southwest.

“Our focus continues to be on delivering the music that’s made here and played here,” said Matt Reilly, KUTX’s program director. “Whether that’s an Austin-based band, or a national act making an Austin tour stop. Add to that our music hosts’ personal connections to the local music scene and their ability to handcraft their sets make for truly exciting radio that resonates with Austinites.”

Bikinis owner Doug Guller featured on ‘Undercover Boss’

Doug Guller
Doug Guller

Look for Doug Guller, founder of the locally based Bikinis Sports Bar and Grill chain, later this month on CBS’s “Undercover Boss.”

The episode will air Dec. 28.

Producers first contacted Guller about a year ago, he said. In October, they filmed at five different Bikinis locations – three in the Dallas area, one in San Antonio and one in North Austin, near Highland Mall.

At each location, Guller posed as an entry-level employee, with cameras rolling as he interacted with customers and co-workers. To avoid being recognized, he wore an elaborate disguise that included a wig, earrings, goatee and even eyeliner.

“It was a great opportunity to see what the team goes through behind the scenes,” Guller said. “I got to see just how hard their jobs really are.”

Most of the experiences were positive, Guller said, but it wouldn’t be reality TV without a little bit of drama. In the end, though, he said he’s happy with how things turned out – and he thinks you will be, too.

“It wraps up with what was, for me, a really heartfelt experience,” he said. “I think that’s what the people who watch will get out of it, too.”

Guller’s company, ATX Brands, also owns a number of other bars and restaurants, including The Parish, Scoot Inn, Pelons, Chicago House, Zorro and 508 Tequila Bar. A lot of projects are in the works right now – and that’ll continue well into 2015, Guller said, including the rollout of Gino’s East pizzerias in Austin and elsewhere across the state.

Together, the various ATX Brands businesses employ about 500 people.

“There’s a lot that goes into running a successful company,” Guller said. “We’ve got great people who are working hard to make things happen.”

‘Undercover Boss’

7:30 p.m. Dec. 28

CBS, KEYE Channel 42

Austin auto auction to be televised nationally

A 1971 Dodge Challenger is one of many cars set to be auctioned this weekend.
A 1971 Dodge Challenger is one of many cars set to be auctioned this weekend.

More than 600 classic cars will be sold off in downtown Austin this weekend as part of a nationally televised auction.

The auction, scheduled for Friday and Saturday at the Austin Convention Center, marks the first time Mecum Auctions has visited Austin.

Admission is $20 per person. Children 12 and under are admitted free.

The company typically conducts about a dozen auto auctions each year in large cities such as Dallas and Houston, according to CEO Dave Magers. It also holds a handful of auctions each year for motorcycles and antique tractors.

Mecum had skipped Austin in the past because it doesn’t have a large enough convention center, Magers said, but the company has been experimenting this year with smaller-scale auctions where about 600 vehicles are sold instead of the usual 1,000.

“There are only so many convention centers that are big enough to let us do what we do,” he said. “This new business model is allowing us to get into smaller cities and convention centers. We’ll be packed in there, wall to wall.”

While there will be a variety of cars up for grabs, Magers said Mecum focuses primarily on American muscle cars from the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s. Mecum relies on a team of consignment agents to track down many of the cars it sells.

One of the cars to be sold this weekend is a 1967 Corvette convertible originally owned by astronaut Gus Grissom, the company said. A 1967 Mustang used in the 2000 remake of “Gone in 60 Seconds” will go on the auction block, as well.

“These cars are very unique, very exotic, very collectible and very expensive,” Magers said. “I like to say these are either the car you had in high school – or the car you wish you’d had in high school.”

The entire event will be live-streamed on mecum.com and portions of the auction will be televised both Friday and Saturday on the NBC Sports Network, which airs in about 80 million homes. In Austin, the network is available on most cable and satellite TV lineups, including Time Warner Cable, the area’s dominant provider.

Mecum has been televising its auctions for several years, Magers said. They initially aired on Discovery’s Velocity network for six years before moving to the higher profile NBC Sports Network as part of a three-year deal with a pair of one-year renewal options.

Viewership has steadily been increasing, Magers said, with ratings up about 400 percent in recent months. So far this year, he said 19.2 million unique viewers have tuned in to the NBC Sports Network broadcasts.

“You don’t have to be ready to buy or sell a car to get something out of our shows,” Magers said. “Where else can you get a look at more than 600 unique cars in one spot?”

Mecum Auto Auction

When: Doors open at 8 a.m. Friday and Saturday

Where: Austin Convention Center, 500 E. Cesar Chavez St.

Admission: $20 for adults; free for children 12 and under

On the Web: mecum.com

When to watch

5:30 to 11 p.m. Friday

2 to 6 p.m. Saturday

NBC Sports Network (Time Warner Cable Channel 314)