Colonial Says So Long To Twin Tiers

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RBR+TVBR INFOCUS


Ninety minutes to the south of the Buffalo-Niagara International Airport, via U.S. Highway 219, is one of the smallest Nielsen Audio markets in the U.S. — Olean, N.Y.

Officially a part of the Buffalo television market, Olean and nearby Bradford, Pa., comprise a market that stands on its own due to terrain and distance. Among the companies actively competing in Olean are Bruce Mittman and Jim Leven’s Community Broadcasters and the Jeff Andrulonis-led Colonial Media + Entertainment.

Mittman and Leven will now be positioning their Olean stations against a new competitor. 

According to an Asset Purchase Agreement filed with the FCC on Monday (4/23), Colonial is selling three FMs and two translators serving Olean (operating as Olean Radio Group) and Bradford (doing business as Quaker State Broadcasting) for $615,600.

The buyer is On Air Inc., an entity based in Scranton, Pa., led by Ric Freeman.

Freeman has never owned radio stations before. But, he tells RBR+TVBR, he has plenty of local media experience in the region.

“I’ve known Jeff for several years, and I am very interested in that area,” Freeman says, noting that he learned of the station’s availability for purchase and subsequently initiated conversations with Andrulonis. “We are knew to the ownership of broadcast properties, and I think it is a tremendous growth market.”

Freeman has served as the publisher, owner and manager of weekly community newspapers since the 1980s, serving such Pennsylvania towns as Carbondale, Milford and Moscow.

He was also a major investor in the New Haven, Conn.-based Journal Register Company, which is now defunct.

Olean marks a whole new market for Freeman, and also a whole new growth opportunity that excites him.

Why? It’s not just St. Bonaventure University. “Being in close proximity to Buffalo and Pittsburgh was very interesting to me,” Freeman says.

As a newspaper industry professional over three decades, he’s had relationships with “several multimillion-dollar clients in Buffalo and Pittsburgh,” he notes.

The fact that Olean is smack dab in the middle of the DMAs is a great thing, Freeman believes — one that he hopes will translate to radio industry profits in Nielsen Audio market No. 226.

The stations On Air Inc. are acquiring are comprised of:

  • Class A WVTT-FM 96.7, a Classic Country station licensed to Portville, N.Y.
  • FM translator W256BS, in Olean at 99.1 MHz, and Class A WAGL-FM 103.9 in Eldred, Pa., a Country outlet branded as “Eagle”
  • Class A WXMT-FM 106.3 in Smethport, Pa., and W254BQ at 98.7 MHz, an Adult Hits station branded as “The Mountain.”

Freeman will assume control of the properties via a Time Brokerage Agreement, ahead of FCC approval of the transaction and closing. The TBA goes into effect on May 1, upon a payment of $50,000 to Colonial.

How the purchase is being done is unique.

Freeman is acquiring the right to receive a minimum of 3,770,667 “Tokens” representing units of currency with Ideum Corp., which he is warranting to Colonial at a value of $0.15 per token. This right is being assigned to Andrulonis’ comoany.

Should the value yield a sum of under $565,600, the difference will be made in U.S. dollars.

If the value increases, it’s icing on the cake for Colonial, which will now focus its efforts in the Carolinas. A real property contract has been reached that will see Colonial sell certain real estate associated with its Olean-Bradford stations to LL Realty for $25,000.

There is no broker associated with this sale.

CAROLINA IN MIND

The shift of Colonial from the Empire State to the Coastal Carolina region began in February 2016, when Colonial began operating Class C WFAY-AM 1230, a 1kw facility with one tower, in Fayetteville, NC; and Fort Bragg-targeted Class C simulcast partner WFBX-AM 1450, in north-suburban Spring Lake, NC; via a time brokerage agreement with the Gardner H. Altman Jr.-controlled CRS Radio Holdings.

An outright purchase of the stations came in August 2016, along with two associated FM translators; and Class D Gospel WMIR-AM 1200 and its associated translator, soon-to-debut W275AH at 103.5 MHz, in Atlantic Beach, SC from Altman’s Cumberland A & A Corporation for $777,641. WMIR and its translator serve the bustling vacation city of Myrtle Beach, SC.

It officially marked the company’s return to Fayetteville, as Colonial owned both WFAY and WFBX from 1995 until January 2006, when Norberto Sanchez’s Norsan Media acquired the AMs.

WVTT was acquired by Colonial from veteran radio operator Cary Simpson in April 2009, for $275,000. This followed the October 2008 purchase by Colonial of WXMT from Simpson’s Farm & Home Broadcasting Company for $290,000.

Colonial first entered the Olean market with WAGL, which had the WBYB call letters from 2011-2017 and was WLMI when Andrulonis’ operation purchased the station in July 2006, for $366,000.

Also operating in the Olean market is Sound Communications.


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