In this week’s issue… Stations sell in New England – WEEI flips (AM, that is) – Former Hall stations relaunch in Lancaster – Rogers rebrands news stations
By SCOTT FYBUSH
*At opposite ends of New England, two FM signals are getting new owners – one a growing regional cluster, the other a massive public radio empire.
In Hanover, NEW HAMPSHIRE, we knew Dartmouth College was selling WFRD (99.3), the commercial rock station it had owned since 1976. (Even before that, Dartmouth had been in the radio business, operating WDCR 1340 from 1958 until surrendering the license and going streaming-only in 2010.)
Now we know who’s buying “99 Rock,” and for how much: it’s joining the Sugar River Media cluster that started a few years back when Rob and John Landry bought Bob Vinikoor’s stations. WFRD’s rock format will join Sugar River’s talk stations in the area, WUVR (1490/98.9) in West Lebanon and WNTK (99.7) in Newport, as well as country WCNL (1010/94.7) in Newport/Claremont, classic hits WCFR (1480/106.5) in Springfield, VERMONT and classic country WCVR (1320/100.1) over in Randolph.
In the immediate Upper Valley area, the addition of WFRD will give the Landrys more potent competition against the other big cluster in town, Great Eastern’s group that includes country “Kixx” WXXK (100.5), hot AC WGXL (92.3), AAA “River” WWOD (93.9), plus AMs and translators carrying oldies, ESPN sports and hip-hop.
Sugar River will pay $225,000 for WFRD in a deal brokered by Dick Kozacko, whose Kozacko Media Services represented both seller and buyer.
*Three and a half hours to the south, Dennis Jackson’s WQQQ (103.3) in Sharon, CONNECTICUT has been running a placeholder easy listening format since the end of January, when public broadcaster WSHU ended a ten-year lease of the class A signal that serves most of the northwestern corner of the state, plus a swath of New York state east of the Hudson River.
WQQQ will soon return to public radio, but its new feed will come from the north instead of the south: Jackson’s Ridgefield Broadcasting Corp., which put the station on the air back in 1993, is getting a cool $500,000 to sell the station to WAMC, the Albany-based public radio giant that owns a dozen full-power signals and 16 translators that reach from the Canadian border to the New York City suburbs.
Adding WQQQ to the mix creates some overlap with existing signals; WAMQ (105.1) from Great Barrington and WAMK (90.9) from Kingston already reach much of the same turf WQQQ covers, though the 103.3 signal will give WAMC better reach into some of the tony parts of Litchfield County.
That could be problematic for the other local public radio outlet. WHDD (91.9/1020) is also licensed to Sharon, and for the last few decades Marshall Miles has prided his little “Robin Hood Radio” on being the smallest public radio station in the continental U.S. Augmented by signals in the Hudson Valley (WLHV 88.1 Annandale-on-Hudson) and Massachusetts (WBSL 91.7 Sheffield), Robin Hood Radio has long positioned itself as the scrappy locally-based challenger to WAMC – but now WAMC will completely overlap Robin Hood’s turf. Can Robin Hood’s hyper-local approach (including a digital “Daily Bugle” local news site) fend off the big guys from across the state line?
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