A Fiery Deal For A Georgia AM Implodes

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A 1kw Class C in the Peachtree State presently serving African American listeners was “acquired” by its current licensee in June 2016.


That would be Norma Jean Lewis, who had previously consummated a deal in 2013 for an AM and an FM in Alabama that never closed. Now, Lewis is losing this Georgia AM, as it’s going back to a seller who has had hard luck finding a solid buyer.

This is the saga of WEZO-AM 1230 in Augusta, Ga., which is presently branded as “The Blaze” and features such syndicated programming as Premiere Networks-distributed The J Anthony Brown Radio Show and Reach Media’s The D.L. Hughley Show.

Just shy of 2 1/2 years ago, the Lewis-led 21st Century Broadcasting agreed to purchase WEZO from Michael J. Sbuttoni for $350,000.

With Dr. Michael Augustus on board as a member of 21st Century’s Board of Directors, WEZO set out to provide Augusta with a unique voice for the African American community.

To fund the WEZO purchase, a Promissory Note and Security Agreement was forged between buyer 21st Century and seller Sbuttoni. It is now known that 21st Century has defaulted on its promissory note.

Now, in an “asset purchase agreement” dated Oct. 29 and filed with the FCC on Tuesday (11/13), Sbuttoni is set to reacquire WEZO’s license.

This effectively negates the $350,000 deal and absolves 21st Century of all outstanding debts to Sbuttoni.

Veteran Washington, D.C.-area communications attorney John C. Trent, Esq. served as the legal counsel in this transaction.

WEZO’s fate has been a fickle one since Sbuttoni bought what was then WKIM-AM in 2003 for $425,000. By July 2011, he attempted to sell the station four times. Each time, the deal was scuttled.

Then came Norma Jean Lewis, who had a plan to pay monthly installments for one year with an annual 2% interest rate. A $357,000 balloon payment of principal and interest came due a year after the closing date.

WEZO’s signal blankets the entire Augusta metropolitan area. It does not have an associated FM translator.