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(April 25, 2001) -- In its final quarterly earnings announcement as an independent company, Citadel Communications Corp. reported first-quarter net revenue of $73.1 million, up 58.6% from $46.1 million in the same period last year.

Citadel, which owns and operates more than 200 radio stations in 42 mid-size markets across the country, agreed to be acquired by Forstmann Little & Co. for $2 billion, with the merger set to be completed by late late June or early July.

Citadel reported net losses applicable to common shares of $35.6 million, or 96 cents per share, compared to a net loss of $14.0 million, or 41 cents per share, in the first quarter of 2000.

Operating income from stations -- or broadcast cash flow -- was up 50.4% to $20 million, from $13.3 million in the year-earlier period. On a same-station basis -- for stations Citadel owned for full 2000 and 2001 periods -- net revenue declined just under 1% to $40.3 million, from $40.6 million.

Declines in national radio sales had the biggest effect on quarterly earnings, said Chairman-CEO Larry Wilson in a call to investors after the markets closed today.

"The biggest element has been the national business; it's really dried up," he said, adding that local sales are less volatile. "One of the beauties of middle markets is that we're really relationship driven."

Mr. Wilson said the company will focus on "local direct business," which means going directly to local advertisers instead of agencies or national clients. "Generally speaking, [local radio] is holding up great." -- Cara Beardi

Copyright April 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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