In this week’s issue… Andrulonis exits Bradford with WXMT sale – Community sells in the North Country – Coal country combo gets new owner – Morning show change in Philadelphia – Christmas battle in Boston?
By SCOTT FYBUSH
*When you’ve done a column like this as long as I have – 25 years and counting! – you see a lot of broadcast groups come and go and change direction. It’s been a long time since we wrote about, or even thought about, names like Granum, Cook Inlet, Pyramid or other players who were such important pieces of the ownership landscape back when we were starting out with “New England Radio Watcher” in the mid-1990s.
What we haven’t been very good about over all those years is pointing out some of those trend lines in real time, which is why we’re starting this week’s column in the hills of northern PENNSYLVANIA by paying attention to the impending exit of an owner whose stations have prompted a lot of coverage in this space over the last decade or so.
That would be Jeff Andrulonis, who built his Colonial Media + Entertainment group from a foundation in the Twin Tiers, where over time he put together a group that included three full power FMs and multiple translators and boosters spanning turf from Olean, N.Y. down past Bradford to Smethport.
In the last few years, though, Jeff and his wife Christy (“Sweet Tea,” on the air) have turned their focus sharply to their new home base down in South Carolina, where they’ve assembled a new cluster of stations around Myrtle Beach and Georgetown.
Colonial attempted to sell its entire Twin Tiers cluster a year and a half ago, in a $615,000 deal that would have been paid in cryptocurrency, but while that transaction drew wide attention, it never reached the finish line. Instead, Andrulonis sold one signal, WAGL (103.9 Eldred), to Family Life Ministry (it became WCGH earlier this year) and for a time took his other signals silent.
Now he’s found a buyer for one of those two remaining signals, WXMT (106.3 Smethport) – and here’s where we also get to note the real-time rise of a new player in the region. Bob Lowe’s Twilight Broadcasting started one year ago this week with the purchase of WKQW (1120) and WKQW-FM (96.3) in Oil City, then got more attention a few months ago by stepping in to save WEEU (830) in Reading out of the wreckage of the Reading Eagle Co. bankruptcy.
And now Twilight is coming to Bradford and Smethport, paying just $90,000 for WXMT. Lowe wasted no time last week bringing some changes to the station under its immediate LMA, ditching the “Mountain” classic rock format Colonial had run for more than a decade and flipping the 106.3 signal to classic hits as “106.3 XMT.”
The sale of WXMT leaves Andrulonis with just one remaining signal in the region, the 96.7 in Portville/Olean that (last we heard) was doing country as WAGL. And we’re not at all sure what became of the translators and boosters around the region – perhaps it’s time for us to head down that way for a road trip soon?
We have a great lineup of podcasts here on our site. While you’re catching up with your summer reading, don’t forget about your summer listening. Now is the time to make sure you’re up to date with Top of the Tower.
Our latest one features Donna Halper discussing her life in radio, from her time at WMMS when she helped Rush get US airplay, to what she learned from Arnie “Woo Woo” Ginsburg.
Don’t forget you can still visit our store to check out our other great products. We’ll be taking preorders for the 2021 calendar soon. Stay tuned!