ESPN Eying NYT's Classical Music Station

Times running out

By Scott Ross
|  Thursday, May 21, 2009  |  Updated 8:45 AM EDT
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ESPN Eying NYT's Classical Music Station

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Yo-Yo Ma, here rehearsing to pretend playing at President Obama's inaugural, could be getting a lot less airtime soon.

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The bad news continues for The New York Times Co. with word that the once-mighty paper is nearing a deal to sell classic music station WQXR, 96.3 FM, to the "worldwide leader in sports."

ESPN has been trying to get its hands on an FM signal in the New York area for months. Now they've registered three web domains that include "ESPN" and "96.3," reports Page Six.

"It would make sense for the New York Times, and the rumors that make the most sense usually have legs." Allan Sniffen, head of the New York Radio Message Board told the Post last month. "In this market and with the state of radio? Anyone's best guess. Maybe $50 million?"

WQXR has been part of the Times family since 1944 and ranks a lowly 18th in New York's radio market.

The Times Co., which lost $74.5 million in the first quarter of 2009, was predictably terse in response to a request for confirmation.

"You should ask ESPN about that," they told Page Six. ESPN in turn declined to comment.

Earlier this year there were rumors that the Times might have to sell and lease back its new office building, were shopping their minority stake in the Boston Red Sox and were threatening to shutter The Boston Globe.

Oh, and Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Maureen Dowd got busted lifting copy from Talking Points Memo editor  Joshua Micah Marshall. But that was an honest mistake -- just ask her.

David Geffen's billions must be looking pretty good right now.

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