Lakes buys station, hires Arbitron


Thomas Birch has inked a deal with Arbitron to provide a Custom Survey Area Report for Fall 2009, measuring the audience in Northern NC–Southside VA. He has also filed to buy WILA-AM, taking his service there up to two AMs and three FMs.

The area covered is fairly large geographically, encompassing Halifax and Mecklenburg counties in Virginia and Granville and Vance counties in North Carolina. Arbitron puts its 12+ population at 143.4K, good enough to fall within the top 250 markets, in the same range as places like Charlottesville, VA Tuscaloosa, AL and Panama City, FL.

Arbitron notes that there is no one dominant television DMA serving this collection of counties, making radio a critical element in any local media campaign.

All of Birch’s properties will fall on the Virginia side of the market. He’s already operating an FM Country pair consisting of WKSK-FM South Boston and WLUS-FM Clarksville, Urban AC WSHV-AM in South Hill, and AC WHLF-FM, also in South Boston.

The new station, WILA, is located in Danville, on the western side of the market. It is being sold by Lawrence A. Toller’s Tol-Tol Communications for $150K. A third of that will go into escrow and will be released to Toller at closing, and the rest will be paid over time pursuant to terms of a promissory note.

RBR/TVBR observation: You have to give Birch and co-owner Aurora Birch credit. When they decided to invest in the market they already serve, they really invested, getting a signal and ratings at the same time.