The Year in Sales

By SCOTT FYBUSH

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It’s time once again for our Year in Review, the 22nd time we’ve gathered up our headlines from the previous 12 months and tried to sum it all up for you. Year in Review installments will appear daily beginning today through our wrap-up on Thursday, December 31, so check back every day for a new installment. We’ll resume our regular NorthEast Radio Watch report on Monday, January 4, 2015, and Tower Site of the Week is back this Friday to ring in the New Year. (And in the meantime, our own Twitter and Facebook feeds and RadioInsight will be here with any breaking news!)

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We start, as we always do, with sales: for a long time now, this has been the only place that collects a full year’s worth of station sale data for the region in one convenient spot, and we continue that tradition as we look back on 2015, month by month.

It was a strange year for sales – not many big ones, to be sure, but lots of activity lower down on the price scale, including some surprisingly low prices for AM signals and some surprisingly high ones for translators as the market tried to sort itself out ahead of a pair of translator major-change windows in 2016.

(As always, Fybush Media is available and eager to help station owners and would-be owners navigate their way through those complex minefields…)

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JANUARY

One of the few really aggressive buyers in big markets in recent years has been EMF Broadcasting, and this month was no exception: EMF augmented its presence in Maine with the $925,000 purchase of Bethesda Christian Broadcasting’s WMSJ (89.3 Freeport).

Up in New York’s North Country, GEOS Communications sold WXLE (105.9 Indian Lake) to North Country Public Radio for $20,000, ending a lease deal there.

FEBRUARY

wddzRadio Disney’s last round of selloffs featured Salem as a buyer in several markets, and that included Pittsburgh, where Salem added WDDZ (1250) to its portfolio for an even $1 million.

MARCH

It was a month for small-ticket AM deals: in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, WGPA (1100) went from the ailing “Jolly Joe” Timmer to CC Broadcasting, Inc. for $95,000, several months before Timmer’s death.

In northern Maine, the Catholic broadcasters at Presence Radio Network picked up WEGP (1390 Presque Isle) from Decelles-Smith for $67,000, saving the station from going dark.

In Attleboro, Mass., the Attleboro Access Cable System received the license for WRNP (1320) as a donation, but not the station’s transmitter site.

APRIL

wagmNorthern Maine stayed in the headlines as NEPSK Inc. exited Presque Isle after more than three decades, selling CBS/Fox affiliate WAGM-TV (Channel 8) to Gray for $10.25 million.

In Central Massachusetts, Bill Macek exited his ownership at WPKZ (1280 Fitchburg, plus its 105.3 translator), selling to K-Zone Media Group for $700,000. Along the coast, the Port group LMA’d Aruba Capital’s stations, WXEX (1540 Exeter NH) and WXEX-FM (92.1 Sanford ME), a prelude to a bigger deal later in the fall.

In Pennsylvania, the new Seven Mountains/Southern Belle did an all-in-the-family $100,000 deal to pick up WHUN (1150 Huntingdon) and WHUN-FM (106.3 Mount Union) from Forever.

One of the pricier translator deals of the year found Dennis Jackson selling W279CI (103.7) to Danbury’s Berkshire Broadcasting for $250,000. And up north, St. Michael’s College in Vermont donated WWPV (88.7 Colchester) to Vermont Public Radio after signing on the new WWPV-LP (92.5).

MAY

Another month for inexpensive AM and translator deals: in Brockton, Massachusetts, Ed Perry bought WXBR (1460) from Azure Media for $165,000. In Manchester, N.H., Edgewater Communications dealt W260CF (99.9) out of its massive translator inventory, selling it to Saga for $45,000. In Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Calvary Chapel of Marlton, N.J. sold W221BV (92.1) to Hall Communications for $120,000. And in Bath, N.Y., Pembrook Pines sold WVIN (98.3)/WABH (1380) to Tower Broadcasting for $375,000.

JUNE

chuc-classicrockThe biggest deals of the month were north of the border, where Gregory Charles’ ClassiQ bought Radio Classique’s CJPX (99.5 Montreal) and CJSQ (92.7 Quebec) for C$6.78 million and C$3.72 million, respectively. Ontario’s My Broadcasting grew, too, with the purchase of Pineridge Broadcasting’s CJWV (96.7 Peterborough) and CHUC (107.9)/CKSG (93.3) in Cobourg.

Stateside, Salem’s $500,000 repurchase of WMKI (1260 Boston) from Disney was the biggest radio sale of the month in the region, far outpacing Daly XXL’s purchase of WMEX (1510 Boston) from Blackstrap for just $175,000 (along with assuming the conside3rable costs of operating that 50,000-watt signal.)

Ed Levine’s Galaxy Communications sold its last Albany-market holding, translator CP W263CG (100.5), to Pamal for $130,000. A less-expensive translator deal was Maine Public Broadcasting’s $19,000 purchase of W259BY (99.7 Waterville) from community broadcaster WERU.

EMF and Bob Stevens’ Broadcast Communications groups swapped signals, with EMF getting WKJL (88.1 Clarksburg WV) and WRIJ (106.9 Masontown PA), while Stevens took WDKL (95.9 Grafton WV) and W237CX (95.3 Bridgeport WV). Stevens also picked up WRWJ (88.1 Murrysville PA) from He’s Alive Inc!, which exited the broadcast scene in the region.

With the 2016 spectrum auction on the way, values began to creep up for low-power TV stations: Tyche Broadcasting paid $250,000 for WTXX-LP and WRNT-LP in Springfield and Hartford.

And in central New York, Syracuse Community Broadcasting sold WXXE (90.5 Fenner) to public broadcaster WRVO for $7500.

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JULY

In a relatively quiet month, new private equity took control of the big Connoisseur group nationwide.

On TV, Ironwood Communications bought out its partner in Portland, paying $65,000 to take over WPME (Channel 35) from Cottonwood Communications.

AUGUST

Southern Belle/Seven Mountains kept buying its way across central Pennsylvania, paying $3.8 million for Max Media’s WWBE/WYGL, WVSL and WFYY in the Selinsgrove-Sunbury area.

wwjz-relevantDisney’s last NERW-land station sold, and for a healthy price, too, as Starboard paid $3.5 million to take WWJZ (640 Mount Holly NJ) Catholic just in time for Pope Francis’ visit. Elsewhere in New Jersey, Radio Cantico Nuevo paid $130,000 for WPDI (103.9 Hazlet).

In the Binghamton market, Steve Gilinsky took sole ownership of WLTB (101.7 Johnson City), buying out partner Thomas Mollett’s 75% interest in GM Broadcasting for $250,000.

In the Catskills, Neversink swapped translator W239AC (95.7 Middletown) to Townsquare for WALL (1340 Middletown) and the right to put its programming on HD subchannels of WPDH (101.5 Poughkeepsie).

Translator sales heated up, too: Family Stations sold W287AB (105.3) in Albany to Capital Broadcasting (WGDJ 1300) for $50,000; Dennis Jackson paid Univision $75,000 for W276AV (103.1 Stamford CT); JVC Communications paid Bridgelight $120,000 for three Long Island signals and Maranatha Ministries sold off W289BY (105.7 Millville NJ) to Ritmo Broadcasting.

SEPTEMBER

By far the biggest deal of the year again came from the Confer family, as Forever paid $4.25 million to pick up WGTY (107.7) and WGET (1320) in Gettysburg from the Times & News Company that had owned the stations for decades.

Judith Baron sold WEDO (810 McKeesport PA) to Bob Stevens’ Broadcast Communications for $175,000, a tenth of the original asking price.

On the translator front, Ritmo picked up W245CJ (96.9 Wilmington DE) from iHeart for $60,000 to add to its “Supra” network around Philadelphia; up in Portland, Maine, Atlantic Coast paid Light of Life Ministries $80,000 for W263BZ (100.5).

On TV, Syracuse Broadcasting bought Sinclair’s option on WNYS-TV (Channel 43) for $250,000.

OCTOBER

wxct-koolIn a surprise $2.9 million deal, John Fuller’s Red Wolf group added Providence’s WKKB (100.3 Middletown), as well as WACM (1490) and WSPR (1270) in Springfield and WXCT (990) in Southington, Connecticut, all from Davidson Media Group.

The other seven-figure deal was noncommercial, as Centenary College unloaded WNTI (91.9 Hackettstown NJ) to Philadelphia’s WXPN for $1.3 million.

Light of Life Ministries sold another Maine translator, W246BP (97.1 Sanford), this time to Aruba Capital for $78,750.

South of Wilkes-Barre, GEOS Communications sold WAZL (1490 Hazleton) to JMJ Radio for just $30,000.

NOVEMBER

North of the border, Torres Media paid Radio Express C$401,000 for CKOD (103.1 Salaberry-de-Valleyfield QC), while Chris Perry and Ray Zinck announced the sale of CJLS (95.5 Yarmouth NS) to Acadia Broadcasting.

In Pittsburgh, WESA (90.5) and WYEP (91.3) announced plans to combine under a single board now that the debt for WESA’s purchase from Duquesne University has been paid down.

In Syracuse, WZUN (102.1 Phoenix) returned from WZUN Communications Inc. to Galaxy for $1 million after ownership-cap issues were resolved. Down the road in the Finger Lakes, FMX Broadcasting sold W277CN (103.3 Canandaigua) to Russ Kimble’s RSK group for $25,000.

DECEMBER

wycrForever struck again in central Pennsylvania, this time with a $2.6 million deal for Radio Hanover’s WYCR (98.5)/WHVR (1280) in the York market.

AM deals in New England found Bill Binnie selling WLVP (870 Gorham) and WLAM (1470 Lewiston) to Maine’s Bob Bittner for just $135,000; in Wolfeboro, N.H., meanwhile, Winnipesaukee Radio Station LLC paid $150,000 for WASR (1420). Dan Priestly’s estate is selling WGUY (1230), WWNZ (1400) and the 94.1 translator in Bangor to Pine Tree Broadcasting (WRMO 93.7), for a total of $90,000.

In Norwich, Vermont, Bouchard Broadcasting paid Brian Dodge $75,000 in hopes of moving W261CB (100.1) to Woonsocket, R.I. to become a WNRI (1380) translator, the first of many such deals ahead of the 2016 AM translator window. That deal was followed by Costa-Eagle filing to pay $75,000 each for two more Dodge translators. W249AW (97.7 Lebanon NH) and W265AM (100.9 Norwich VT) would move to the Merrimack Valley to relay WCCM (1110) and WCEC (1490). In Milford, Mass., WMRC (1490) paid $30,000 to EMF to acquire W226BU (93.1 Saratoga Springs NY).

In south Jersey, Domestic Church Media Foundation is paying Access.1 $75,000 for WGYM (1580 Hammonton), which will simulcast Catholic WFJS (1260 Trenton).

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> > > Continue to part two: The Year in Formats, People and Calls

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