DERBY – Pending FCC approval, WMOO-FM and WIKE-AM will soon have a new owner.
Yesterday, Bruce James, president of Vermont Broadcast Associates, said his company signed a letter of agreement to purchase the stations.
Last May, Jeff Shapiro and Bill Binnie purchased 11 radio stations from Nassau Broadcasting during a bankruptcy action. Shapiro and Binnie divided the stations between themselves. Shapiro, from Vertical Capital, took over the Derby radio stations and other stations in northern New England.
The U.S. Bankruptcy Court approved the purchase of the radio stations in September. The FCC still needs to approve the transfer of the stations from Nassau Broadcasting to Vertical Capital. James expects that will be complete by Nov. 14.
Once that is complete, James will buy the radio stations from Vertical Capital.
James, who owns several radio stations in the St. Johnsbury, VT and Littleton, NH area, had a long-standing goal of bringing his company’s successful formula of Northeast Kingdom radio stations to Newport.
“Newport is truly a wonderful place,” said James. "Helping create a positive, energetic lifestyle where people want to live, work and play is very important to a vibrant community and our radio stations will do what we can to promote that to our listeners and advertising clients in the Newport area. This will be a very positive time for people in Newport and surrounding towns."
James hopes to bring some structure to WMOO-FM’s format of adult contemporary content. He also hopes to bring in more local news, local weather and benchmark programming. James wants to make WMOO-FM the most professional station it can be.
James said the morning radio listener is not the same listener as the evening. In the morning, listeners are families who want to know what happened overnight and how to prepare for the day. The evening listeners are teenagers and young adults doing their homework, talking to each other and working on the computer.
James wants to have family programming.
James is still up in the air with the country western format of WIKE-AM. He is currently building a country station that will broadcast on 94.5 FM. The tower will be in Irasburg with a studio at the WIKE/WMOO building. That additional station gives James options on format.
“I know that country is very popular right now on WIKE,” said James. “I got a feeling that the country listener would love to have a modern country station that’s on FM that still has local news and weather and is very relevant to the community. I really have to take a look at that. Is that something I want to put on one of the FM stations? If I do that, then we have to talk about what we will do with WIKE to make that relevant for its listeners.”
James is a strong believer in keeping his stations local. He would consider having a call-in trading post type program on the Derby stations. Overnight programming might not be local.
“I love radio,” James said. “I love what local radio stations can do in local communities. I love the positive impact they can have on local communities. I want to bring 5,000 people into Newport for festivals and events. Those 5,000 people aren’t going to come from Hartford, Connecticut; they’re going to come from Holland, Morgan, Newport, Derby and all the towns around.”
James’ fell in love with radio by listening to distance AM stations late at night.
Newport Daily Express Publisher Ken Wells is delighted with James’ purchase.
“I have known and worked with Bruce James for 20 years and we share the same vision for promotion and local expansion of the business climate in Orleans County,” said Wells. “We will be working with this new ownership on several fronts and I congratulate Bruce on his latest acquisition.”