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NorthEast Radio Watch 4/30: Fuller-Jeffrey Sells Out

*One of the last big locally-owned radio groups in New England is
succumbing to the pressures of corporate consolidation.
Fuller-Jeffrey announced late Friday afternoon that it has agreed to a
$63 million buyout by Citadel Communications.

In F-J's Portland home base, Citadel gets classic rock giant WBLM
(102.9), modern rock simulcast WCYY (94.3 Biddeford)/WCYI (93.9
Lewiston), CHR WJBQ (97.9), AC WHOM (94.9 Mount Washington NH), and
AAA-AC WCLZ (98.9 Brunswick).  On the New Hampshire seacoast, Citadel
gets country monster WOKQ (97.5 Dover)-WPKQ (103.7 Berlin) and classic
rock simulcast WXBB (105.3 Kittery ME)-WXBP (102.1 Hampton).  

The companies' statement makes no mention of F-J's Portland AMs, WJAE
(1440 Westbrook) and WJJB (900 Brunswick), which don't appear to be
included in this deal.  

"We are truly passing heritage radio stations to a heritage company,"
says F-J founder Bob Fuller, who calls Citadel "a company well kown
for its commitment to community service."

Citadel's only Northeast presence until now was in Providence, where
the company bought Tele-Media's WPRO AM-FM/WWLI/WSKO a few years back
(and later added WXEX/WHKK to the group).

NERW's editorial comment: Bob Fuller and J.J. Jeffrey are among the
finest broadcasters in New England.  We were heartened a few years ago
by their decision to sell their stations outside the region and focus
their energies on the Portland and Seacoast markets.  Their presence
has helped the Portland market, in particular, sound like something
much bigger than market 162.  WBLM has never known another owner in
its 26-year history.  

Can the market be served as well by a company from Nevada, whose
owners know nothing about WBLM's beginnings in the little transmitter
shack in Litchfield, or about the mighty reach of WHOM's mountaintop
transmitter, or about the historical reasons for returning the WJBQ
calls to 97.9?  We're inclined to doubt it, and we hope Fuller and
Jeffrey continue to keep a hand in the region's broadcasting scene.
It would be a shame, indeed, if Portland and Portsmouth become nothing
more than branch offices for companies based in Nevada, Michigan, and

*Two of CONNECTICUT's biggest radio stations are being sold.  A new
group called "Aurora Communications" will pay $66 million for WEBE
(107.9 Westport) and WICC (600 Bridgeport), taking the stations from
Martin Pompadur's "ML Media Partners."  

So who's Aurora?  The principals in the new group are Frank Osborn,
the former NBC executive who later ran the Osborn Communications
station group before selling it to Pilot a few years back, and Frank
Washington, the former FCC Mass Media Bureau deputy chief who runs
former Capstar station WFAS AM-FM over in White Plains NY.
(Washington was to have taken over more former Capstar properties -
WINE/WRKI Brookfield, WPUT Brewster/WAXB Patterson NY, and WZZN Mount
Kisco NY -but those purchases have been on hold and may now become
Aurora acquisitions instead.)

Aurora says it will try to grow as a small and medium-market operator,
taking advantage of markets where groups are forced to spin off
stations as a result of hitting ownership limits.  

Meanwhile, it's a nice cash-out for ML, which paid $12 million for
WEBE and $6 million for WICC in the 80s.

In other Nutmeg State news, WNTY (990 Southington) is again running
ethinc programming on weekends, when it stays on the air until 9 PM.
Weekdays, it's still a 5 PM sign-off for the station.

What's WKCD worth?  We hear Back Bay Broadcasting paid $2.02 million
for the Pawcatuck station.

More Winter Arbs this week, and we'll start with the Hartford numbers,
where WRCH solidified its first-place status.  Also up this book were
second-place WTIC(AM), WKSS in third, WTIC-FM in fourth, WWYZ, and
WDRC-FM.  Dropping this book were WDRC(AM), with a substantial
fall-off from last Fall's book, WCCC, and WZMX.  

*RHODE ISLAND got its ratings book this week as well, and the winner
again this time in the Providence market is AC WWLI, despite a slight
drop in its 12+ numbers.  WWBB rose from fourth to second, followed by
WPRO-FM, WHJY, WWKX/WAKX, and a good book for Brown's modern rock
WBRU, helped slightly by the demise of rival modern rocker WXEX.  That
station, in its first book simulcasting classic-rock computer WHKK,
took a big dive nonetheless.  Also dropping was Capstar talker WHJJ,
which ended up behind three Boston FMs in the Providence book.  How
little are older audiences valued?  Ask WLKW, which despite a lousy
signal from Pawtucket pulled in four times as many listeners overall
as WSKO on the much-stronger 790 Providence signal.  So why did
Citadel shuffle the standards of WLKW down to 550 to put sports on
790?  It's all in the demographics, we guess...

*Topping our news in MASSACHUSETTS is the sale of a Worcester-area FM
to one of the market's bigger broadcasters.  Montachusett's WXLO
(104.5 Fitchburg) has long been a stand-alone, but now it's getting a
sister station with the $3.5 million purchase of Chowder
Broadcasting's WORC-FM (98.9).  The classic rocker (known on air as
"The Bus") holds a CP to change city of license to Spencer and boost
its signal into Worcester.  Will Montachusett (or parent company Deer
River) pull 98.9 out of its current classic-rock fight with WWFX
(100.1 Southbridge) and go in a different direction?  Here's a hint:
Since WQVR became WWFX, there's no country station right in the
Worcester market, and rimshots like WKLB-FM Lowell and WCTK New
Bedford aren't all that close.

WBCN will remain the flagship station for the Patriots, with the
team's Friday-afternoon announcement that it's not moving to Hartford
after all.

Some personnel changes on the way in Boston: Frank Kelly moves from
sales manager up to VP/GM at Greater Media's Boston group (WBOS, WSJZ,
WKLB-FM, WMJX, WROR), allowing Peter Smyth to work full-time as
Greater Media's group president.  Don Kelley is named VP/Programming
for the stations.

Over at Chancellor, WJMN (94.5) PD "Cadillac" Jack McCartney will take
on group-wide duties for the company, which is launching a new "Office
of Product and Strategy" to coordinate programming at the hundreds of
stations it owns.  McCartney will oversee CHR formats for the group.
Meantime, Tom Poleman of WHTZ (100.3 Newark-New York) adds
responsibilities for overseeing programming in several Chancellor
markets, including Boston.  

If anyone cares, the WEGQ-to-WQSX call change at Lawrence's 93.7 is
official.  (And we suspect the only people who DO care are the ones
reading NERW!)  Expect some airstaff announcemets from "Star" in time
for next week's NERW...