The Year in Sales
By SCOTT FYBUSH
It’s time once again for our Year in Review, the 23rd 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 Friday, December 30, so check back every day for a new installment. We’ll resume our regular NorthEast Radio Watch report on Monday, January 2, 2017. (And in the meantime, our own Twitter and Facebook feeds and RadioInsight will be here with any breaking news!)
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 2016, month by month.
The year brought one mammoth deal in our region, the Beasley acquisition of Greater Media that made the group a major player in Boston and (for the second time) Philadelphia, and it laid the groundwork for an even bigger spinoff of CBS Radio. But it also brought a flood of smaller deals for translators and for smaller owners, too. North of the border, it saw some of the last local independent owners exit the scene in Ontario markets.
(As always, Fybush Media is available and eager to help station owners and would-be owners navigate their way through those complex minefields…)
The year kicked off with news of a deal from 2015’s last days, Leatherstocking Media Group’s $2.5 million sale of WSEN-FM (92.1 Baldwinsville NY) and WMCR-FM (106.3 Oneida NY) to Family Life Ministries – but there would be some twists and turns along the way to closure there.
Dan Priestley’s estate sold Bangor translator W291CO to Maine Public Broadcasting for $160,000 and his Bangor-market AMs, WGUY (1230 Veazie ME/W231CH 94.1) and WWZN (1400 Veazie), to Chuck Begin’s Pine Tree Communications for $90,000. Other smaller AM sales included Pittsburgh Public Media’s $75,000 pickup of WZUM (1550 Braddock) from AM Guys LLC and Domestic Church Media Foundation’s $75,000 purchase of WGYM (1580 Hammonton NJ) from Access.1.
But the big news ahead of the January 29 opening of the first AM translator window was all about translator values as the market tried to figure out how to price those low-power signals. Those prices ranged from $100,000 (W243DM Hauppauge NY, Juan Alberto Ayala to Centro Cristiana de Vida Eterna, part of a four-station deal) to $88,000 (W293BN Barnstable MA, Horizon Christian Fellowship to Blount Communications) to a donation (W250BX Redwood NY from JVC Media to Hudson Valley Public Radio).
In between, values included $85,000 (W244DD Linden NJ, Bridgelight to Blount); $80,000 (W262AP Morrisonville NY, EMF to Hall); $65,000 each (W236CK Westport NY and W224CT Saratoga Springs NY, St. Lawrence University to Red Wolf Broadcasting); $60,000 (W283BY Toms River NJ, Priority Radio to World India Radio); $50,000 (W250BT Beaver PA, He’s Alive to Radio One; W283CB Jonestown PA, Family Life Ministries to Radio Power Inc); $45,000 (W244DB South Williamsport PA, W288DE Williamsport PA, GEOS to Southern Belle LLC); $40,000 (W231BI Utica NY, EMF to Radio One; W229AQ Mansfield PA, W231BK Oswego NY and W236BN Berwick PA, each from Family Life Ministries to Renda) to $25,000 (W246CT Salem NJ, Hope Christian Church of Marlton to Beasley; W236CE Gettysburg PA, Hope Christian to Radio Vision Cristiana).
A few more translator sales trickled in at fairly high price tags: $100,000 (W244AS Oakhurst NJ, Wesley Weis to Radio Video Mundo); $75,000 (W239AG Long Lake NY, Northeast Gospel Network to Trignition Media) and $60,000 (W243BW Cheektowaga NY, Family Life Ministries to Salem).
By comparison, Maine Public Broadcasting’s $37,500 acquisition of WFYB (91.5 Fryeburg ME) looked like a relative bargain.
A rare month in which no NERW-land station changed hands…
…but there were fireworks ahead in April, including a $1.6 million deal for New York City-market translator W248CG (97.5 Jersey City), which went from Ted Schober’s City Commons LLC to Cantico Nuevo Ministries.
Binnie Media filled a hole in its New Hampshire holdings, paying Garrison City $2.1 million for WTSN (1270 Dover) and WBYY (98.7 Somersworth) after an earlier deal to merge the stations into Port Broadcasting fell through.
Upstate, Syracuse broadcaster Craig Fox swapped his WOLF-FM (105.1 DeRuyter), WWLF (96.7 Oswego) and translator W254BC (98.7 Camillus) for Family Life’s newly-acquired WSEN-FM (92.1 Baldwinsville).
In Pennsylvania, Family Life Ministries filed to sell WCGM (102.7 Wattsburg) to Williamsport Broadcasting, Inc. for $840,000 (a deal that had yet to close at year’s end); Cary Simpson sold WNBT (1490 Wellsboro), WNBT-FM (104.5 Wellsboro) and WNBQ (92.3 Mansfield) to Seven Mountains/Southern Belle for $400,000.
On the noncommercial end, Horizon Christian Fellowship paid Light of Life Ministries $105,000 for WWRN (88.5 Rockport MA, moving to 91.5).
More translator deals: $85,000 (W247CD Worcester MA, UMass to Townsquare Media); $70,000 (W242CE Rupert VT, Vermont Public Radio to Pamal); $60,000 (W266CK Great Barrington MA and W278BT Lee MA, both from UMass to Alex Langer).
More translator sales included a whopping $251,000 deal to send W281AC (104.1 Portland ME) from the University of Southern Maine to Maine Public Broadcasting, as well as $71,500 (W269BA Woodford VT, Northeast Gospel Network to Binnie Media) and $50,000 (W283BZ Altoona PA, He’s Alive to Colonial Radio Group).
In New York’s Finger Lakes, Long Point’s $3.375 million deal to buy the Finger Lakes Radio Group finally fell through, allowing longtime station manager Alan Bishop to pay $1.217 million and forgive $719,000 in bankruptcy claims to pick up the signals from former partner George Kimble.
Colonial Media + Entertainment turned a profit with the $310,500 sale of WAVL (910 Apollo PA) and translator W230BO Olean NY to Laurel Highlands Total Communication; Colonial had paid just $50,000 for silent WAVL a few months earlier.
Translator sales: $40,000 (W208BU Berwick PA, Cedar Cove Broadcasting to Forever); $30,000 (W287CV Lockport NY, Calvary Chapel of the Finger Lakes to Culver Communications).
The heat of summer brought the hottest deal of the year, the $240 million acquisition of Greater Media by Beasley. That added five big Boston-market FMs (WBOS, WBQT, WKLB-FM, WROR-FM, WMJX) to WRCA(AM) there, returned Beasley to FM in Philadelphia with the addition of WMMR, WBEN-FM and WMGK to its AM pair, WTEL and WWDB, and also brought Greater’s hometown WCTC/WMGQ in New Brunswick, N.J. into the Beasley family.
Radio One’s $40,000 purchase of a translator paid off big time once the former W231BI Utica NY was moved to Boston, at which point Beasley ponied up $400,000 to pair the signal with its WRCA(AM).
More translator sales ahead of the opening of the second AM window included deals at $85,000 (W267BT Woodstock NY, Vermont Public Radio to Blount Communications); $75,000 (W222AT Hamilton NY, SUNY Oswego to WURD, LLC; W283BR Dansville NY, Family Life Ministries to Salem; W206BH Lyons Falls NY, St. Lawrence University to Cram Communications; W253AF Bennington VT and W242AL Buskirk NY, each from Northeast Gospel Network to Absolute Broadcasting); $65,000 (six Northeast Gospel Network signals in New York and Massachusetts to Antonio Gois); $55,000 (W283BZ Altoona PA, Colonial Media + Entertainment to Magnum); $50,000 (W227CY Easton NY, Northeast Gospel Network to Cram Communications; W266CL Dryden NY, SUNY Oswego to WXXI Public Broadcasting); $47,000 (W258CF Rio Grande NJ from Maranatha Ministries/Joy Communications to Pamal); $45,000 (W293BL Saranac Lake NY, Saranac Lake Broadcasting to Saga); $15,000 (W255CS Scotland PA, Temple U. to Steel City Radio); $10,000 (W221DG Exton PA, Temple U. to Broadcast Sciences LLC) and one single dollar (W300CW Toms River NJ, WYRS, Inc. to WNPV in Lansdale PA).
A few more translator sales: $65,000 (W277CN Canandaigua NY, RSK Broadcasting to WMBS Uniontown PA) and $50,000 (W249CV Saranac Lake NY, Northeast Gospel Network to Money Matters Radio).
Bold Gold Media Group made a splash in the Catskills, paying $1.6 million for Watermark Communications’ WSUL (98.3 Monticello), WVOS-FM (95.9 Liberty) and WVOS (1240 Liberty) to pair with its WDNB (102.1 Jeffersonville) and three more signals across the Pennsylvania line
What’s an AM worth without a translator? After paying $5 million for WILD (1090 Boston) back in 2000, Radio One unloaded the AM to lease tenant James Su’s Radio Boston Broadcasting, Inc. for just $888,231.
Translator sales began slowing down: Four Rivers Community Broadcasting sold W300BT Nescopeck Pass PA to GEOS Communications for just $15,000; meanwhile, GEOS sold W233CB Hazleton PA to Southern Belle for $70,000.
Cooler weather brought some hotter deals to the table, including a surprise $3 million Galaxy Communications entry into western Massachusetts. Galaxy’s acquisition of Gamma’s stations there came in two parts: a $1.68 million deal for Berkshire Broadcasting Co. that will bring in classic hits WUPE-FM (100.1 North Adams), AC WNAW (1230 North Adams), full-service WSBS (860 Great Barrington) and WUPE translator W277CJ (103.3 Pittsfield), plus a $1.47 million sale of classic hits WUPE (1110 Pittsfield), talk WBEC (1420 Pittsfield) and hot AC WBEC-FM (95.9 Pittsfield) directly from Gamma to Galaxy II Media LLC. Also changing hands was WSBS translator W231AK (94.1 Great Barrington), which Gamma bought from Rick Kelly’s Northeast Airchecks LLC for $20,000 and then sold to Galaxy II as part of the WBEC deal.
Two seven-figure deals in western Pennsylvania anchored the month there: in Pittsburgh, EMF turned its lease of Forever’s WPKV (98.3 Carnegie) into a $6.7 million purchase – $6 million in cash plus two translators; up along I-80, First Media sold four FM stations and an AM to Seven Mountains Media for $4.5 million – country WOWQ (102.1 Du Bois), hot AC WQYX (93.1 Clearfield), the “ZDB Rocks” rock simulcast of WZDB (95.9 Sykesville)/WZDD (101.3 Strattanville) and oldies WCPA (900 Clearfield).
EMF turned another lease into a purchase, paying Radio Partners LLC $400,000 for WLKE (93.5 Gallitzin PA) and WLSF (105.1 Sheffield PA). Meanwhile, Ted Schober paid Birach Broadcasting just $25,000 for silent WKGE (850 Johnstown PA).
Along the New York state line, Todd Bowers sold his half of WATS (960 Sayre) and WAVR (102.1 Waverly) to his partner Charles Carver, Jr., in a transaction valued at $200,000.
A new group emerged along the Connecticut River, as veteran broadcasters John and Rob Landry (under the Sugar River Media banner) paid Bob Vinikoor’s Koor Communications $1.95 million for its station group – news-talk WNTK-FM (99.7 Newport NH), news-talk WUVR (1490 Lebanon NH)/W255CF (98.9 West Lebanon NH), oldies WCFR (1480 Springfield VT)/W293BH (106.5 Springfield VT), classic country WCVR (1320 Randolph VT) and country WCNL (1010 Newport VT)/W234BN (94.7 Claremont NH). The Landrys also used their Sugar River Foundation to pay the Vinikoor Family Foundation $10,000 for WSCS (90.9 New London NH).
The end of the AM window brought a flurry of deals, ranging from $90,000 (W273CH Middlebury VT, Sun Signals to Sugar River Media) to $65,000 (W266CI Ithaca NY, Ed Farmer to WIN Radio Broadcasting) to $55,000 (W272DF Ocean City NJ, CSN International to Press Communications) to $50,000 (W273CO Lansing NY, Robert Lunch to Sound Communications) to $32,000 (W272AU Hanover NH, VPR to Kurt Jackson) to $30,000 (W234BD Bolton NY, VPR to Vizella Media).
Across the border, local Tillsonburg Broadcasting struck a deal to sell its CKOT-FM (101.3 Tillsonburg ON) and CJDL (107.3 Tillsonburg ON) to Rogers. In Quebec, Attraction Media added a twelfth signal, paying Radio Haute-Mauricie C$766,725 for CFLM (97.1 La Tuque).
With the translator window closed, we began to get some clarity as to what AM signals are worth in a post-“revitalization” window.
In central Connecticut, Trignition Media LLC filed to buy WRYM (840 New Britain) from Eight Forty Broadcasting for $648,000, pairing it with the translator Trignition had already bought there. In Buffalo, Sheila Brown’s Visions Multi-Media Group paid MCL/MCM New York $307,331.86 for WUFO (1080 Amherst), which Brown has operated for several years. Up in Plattsburgh, A&J Radio (Aaron and Jessica Ishmael) picked up Steve Silberberg’s WTWK (1070) and W242BS (96.3, moving to 103.7) for $140,000 to pair with their leased WZXP (97.9 Au Sable).
Further proving the high value of an “as-is, where-is” translator already licensed in a big market, Hope Christian Church of Marlton filed a $500,000 sale of W289AZ (105.7 Camden/Philadelphia) to Mega Philadelphia LLC, which had been leasing the translator for its WEMG (1310 Camden).
In Maine, Pine Tree Broadcasting began its exit with the $150,000 sale of WRMO (93.7 Milbridge) to Maine Public Broadcasting.
In Canada, Frank Alvarez filed to sell CIRV (88.9 Toronto) to South Asian Broadcasting Corp.
Pine Tree’s exit from Maine finished with a $172,000 sale of the three Bangor AMs and translator for which it had paid $90,000 – WGUY (1230), WBAN (1340), WCYR (1400) and WBAN’s translator, W231CH. Buyer Port Broadcasting added the Bangor signals on the heels of completing its merger with Aruba Capital Holdings; Aruba’s WXEX (1540 Exeter NH, plus translator W246BP) and WXEX-FM (92.1 Sanford ME) joined up with Port’s WWSF (1220 Sanford) and WNBP (1450 Newburyport MA) and their translators in the new Port. Port’s Carl Strube and Pete Falconi will each have 22% of the new company, while Aruba will have 29.1% and Aruba principal Andrew Hartmann will have 26.9% as his personal piece of the company. (Port had been operating WXEX and WXEX-FM under an LMA since April 2015.)
Mercyhurst University filed to sell WMCE (1530 North East PA) to Inspiration Time, Inc. for $30,000.
And a few translator sales closed out the year at $45,000 (W247CA Danbury CT, Connecticut Public Broadcasting to Berkshire Broadcasting), $40,000 (W289AU Scranton PA, Community Radio Collective to Visions Multi-Media for WUFO in Buffalo) and $22,000 (W222AL, Family Stations to Gail Lee Burke).