Nassau Broadcasting Partners

Nassau Broadcasting Partners

Nassau Broadcasting Partners LP is a company based in Princeton, New Jersey that owns radio stations in New England and the Mid-Atlantic United States. Nassau's stations, which include both AM and FM frequencies, are located in Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Vermont. The company is owned and headed by Louis F. Mercatanti. Nassau is predominantly an operator of radio stations in medium and small markets. Nassau formerly owned radio station WCRB-FM in Waltham, a Boston suburb, and located in the Boston market, the eleventh largest radio market in the US, according to BIA Financial Network. However that station was sold to WGBH in 2009.[1] Nassau operates radio stations in substantially all of the major formats. The company's most common format is classic rock/classic hits. On October 13, 2011 Nassau Broadcasting entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after their senior lenders petitioned for an involuntary Chapter 7 liquidation in September.

Contents

History

Nassau Broadcasting was founded by Herb Hobler with the acquisition of WHWH 1350 in Princeton, New Jersey. That station employed a full-service MOR format. WHWH-FM was eventually launched and became WPST on 97.5 FM by 1975. WPST employed a rock-based Top 40 format. WPST was one of the most successful medium market stations in the country. Until the early 1990s WPST and WHWH were the only stations owned by Nassau.

In 1986, Louis F. Mercatanti, a successful New Jersey entrepreneur, acquired Nassau Broadcasting from Hobler. Mercatanti continued to operate Nassau as a two-station radio group until 1993, when the FCC raised the limits for the number of radio stations that any one company could own in a particular market.

In 1994, Nassau acquired then-Top 40/Rock 93.5 WSBG and then-adult contemporary 840 WVPO in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. WSBG eventually segued to a pop alternative format in early 1996, moving back to top 40 later that year. The station then evolved to more of a Hot AC format late in 1997 and flipped to an adult rock format in 2000. WVPO became a MOR/adult standards station in 1997. In the spring of 1996, Nassau acquired then-country music station 106.3 WHCY in Blairstown, New Jersey, which served Stroudsburg as well as the Sussex County, New Jersey radio markets. This station would for a few years remain a country music station. Shortly afterward, Nassau went on a buying spree of radio stations.

In August, 1996, Nassau entered into an agreement with Great Scott Broadcasting to acquire religious station WCHR 94.5 FM and sports station WTTM serving the Trenton area. The religious format that was on WCHR FM moved to the AM station which was renamed WCHR AM, while the FM station at 94.5 (formerly WCHR FM) became oldies station WNJO. Nassau operated these stations pursuant to a Local Marketing Agreement (LMA) until 2002.

At the end of 1996 Nassau acquired 1360 WNNJ (now WTOC) and WNNJ-FM (now WNNJ) in the Sussex County market licensed to Newton, New Jersey. Early in 1997 WNNJ-FM dropped its Hot AC format in favor of a pop-leaning classic rock format known as Classic Hits. WNNJ would drop Satellite Oldies in favor of Stardust, a satellite-based pop standards/oldies hybrid format.

In 1997, Nassau bought AM stations 1160 WOBM and 1310 WADB in Monmouth County, New Jersey, along with adult contemporary stations WJLK, WOBM-FM, and WQNJ (which became WBBO and now WKMK). AM stations WOBM and WADB became adult standards stations, while WOBM-FM remained an adult contemporary station. WJLK-FM became a pop alternative-based Hot AC station. In the spring of 1997 WBBO left the WJLK simulcast and became B 98, employing a CHR format.

In September 1998, Nassau agreed to sell radio stations WSBG FM and WVPO AM, licensed to Stroudsburg and East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania respectively, to Multicultural Radio Broadcasting, Inc. Nassau began managing these properties pursuant to an LMA in November 1998. In 2000, WSBG ultimately dropped its Hot AC format in favor of an 80's and 90's based pop adult rock format.

Nassau also began managing WDLC and WTSX in Port Jervis, New York and flipped WTSX to oldies from adult contemporary and WDLC to standards from oldies. WTSX served Middletown, New York and the Sussex County markets, while WDLC served Port Jervis. At the end of 1997, Nassau also bought locally owned WSUS, which was and still is an adult contemporary radio station.

In March 2000, Nassau signed definitive agreements to acquire Aurora Broadcasting. Aurora operated stations in southern New York state and western Connecticut. In order to fund the Aurora acquisition and to accomplish an overall recapitalization of the company, Nassau initiated the process to take the company public in early 2000. During the process of executing the IPO, the Dow Industrial Average dropped approximately 30% and the company cancelled the IPO. The Aurora deal was cancelled that fall.

On August 25, 2000, WHCY dropped its country music format in favor of CHR and became known as "Max 106.3". WSBG dropped its Hot AC format in favor of an 80's and 90's based pop adult rock format.

In the summer of 2000, Nassau agreed to buy Oldies 99.9 WODE and Sports 1230 WEEX in the Lehigh Valley market from Clear Channel Communications. But when Clear Channel merged with AM/FM, they agreed to give Nassau WEEX and WODE plus some cash in exchange for WNNJ, WNNJ-FM, WSUS, and WHCY. Clear Channel also would get management contracts to run WDLC and WTSX. Nassau would keep LMAs for WVPO, WSBG, and WPMR (now WPLY), and eventually buy them back outright.

So in February 2001, the Sussex County cluster of stations would become Clear Channel stations. Nassau also sold the Monmouth County stations including WBBO, WJLK, WADB, and WOBM-AM-FM to Millennium Radio Group, LLC, which also owns WKXW New Jersey 101.5, a talk station weekdays with a 70's based oldies format on weekends.

Also in 2001, Nassau signed on WCHR FM in Monmouth County. That station employed a classic hits format but was eventually also sold to Millennium Radio Group, LLC. Nassau was down to WHWH, WJHR, WCHR, WNJO, WPST, WVPO, WPMR, and WSBG. Except for WPST, Nassau's FM stations all had rock-based classic hits formats of some sort. AM stations had formats such as talk, oldies, or sports. WVPO was flipped to oldies from MOR/Standards. WPST was and still is a CHR station.

In 2004, former Citigroup Media investment banker Tristram Collins joined Nassau as its Sr. Executive Vice President to help Louis Mercatanti grow and operate the company through a series of acquisitions. Nassau expanded significantly through acquisition in 2004 in New England. Nassau first acquired stations in Maine and New Hampshire in early 2004, and later that year, Nassau added more stations in New Hampshire and also in Vermont. Nassau quickly became one of the largest broadcasters in New England with 37 stations in the region. In 2005, Nassau expanded its East Coast footprint to include Maryland through a purchase of two FM and an AM station in Frederick and Hagerstown. Nassau also added stations in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, through a purchase of three FM stations from Qantum Communications in 2005.

In 2006, Nassau entered into an LMA and option agreement with WDAC broadcasting to operate and acquire WBYN FM, a religious format station in Reading, Pennsylvania. Nassau agreed to maintain the religious format and moved the format to one of its local AM stations, WYNS, which was renamed WBYN AM. Nassau then launched its new classic hits format Frank FM and renamed the former WBYN FM to WFKB FM.

Nassau has also recently made a number of changes in the Trenton, New Jersey market. In 2005, the company swapped formats on its two Trenton FM stations (WPST, CHR format and WTHK, classic rock format). During this time period, by changing the city of license on 97.5 FM and making application to the FCC for a change of transmitter location, Nassau received approval from the FCC to move its 97.5 FM signal (which became WTHK FM after the format migration) to become a metropolitan Philadelphia radio station, rather than a Trenton station. Nassau sold 97.5 FM WTHK to Greater Media, Inc. in exchange for cash and Greater Media's station WKLB 99.5 FM in Boston. Nassau also received the Boston classical music format of WCRB as part of the transaction, and Nassau migrated this classical format onto 99.5 FM. 97.5 FM Philadelphia became Smooth Jazz WJJZ, a format abandoned on 106.1 by Clear Channel.

Nassau also had sales pending to Access.1 Broadcasting of WVPO, WPLY, WSBG, WWYY, WODE, WEEX, WBYN, WTKZ, and WFKB. In December, 2006, this sale had not been consummated and was cancelled.

On April 27, 2009 Mercatanti announced that a debt-to-equity agreement had been reached with Goldman Sachs giving the latter 85% ownership of the company. Although Nassau would continue to operate the stations, the change of control ended Nassau's grandfathered status regarding how many stations per market it could own. WHXR in the Portland, Maine market and WNNH and WWHQ in the Concord/Lakes Region market of New Hampshire were to be placed in a divestiture trust and sold, in an arrangement similar to the Aloha Station Trust established by Clear Channel and the Last Bastion Station Trust established by Citadel Broadcasting.

On June 30, 2011 Inside Radio reported that Nassau had retained LCT Capital as financial adviser for a restructuring in which Nassau would raise money to reacquire the company from its lenders for $52 million, about 20 percent of the estimated $258.1 million owed. Nassau would sell its New England radio and real estate holdings by the end of 2012 as part of the reacquisition effort. [2]

In September 2011 an involuntary Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition was filed by Nassau's lenders that, if granted, would force the company to sell off its assets.[3][4] On October 6, 2011, Nassau petitioned the US Bankruptcy court to convert the Chapter 7 petition to Chapter 11 which would permit the stations to continue operating while Nassau reorganized its finances.[5]

Current list of Nassau-owned radio stations

Maine

10 stations (FM - 8 AM - 2)

Call Letters Frequency Name Location Format Notes
WFNK-FM 107.5 Frank FM Lewiston Classic Hits
WTHT-FM 99.9 The Wolf Portland Country
WHXR-FM 106.3 The Bone Scarborough Album Oriented Rock
WBQQ-FM 99.3 The Wolf Kennebunkport Country
WBQW-FM 104.7 WBACH Kennebunkport Classical
WBQX-FM 106.9 WBACH Thomaston Classical
WBQI-FM 107.7 WBACH Bar Harbor Classical
WBYA-FM 105.5 Frank FM Islesboro Classic Hits/Variety Hits
WLAM-AM 1470 ESPN Lewiston Sports Talk
WLVP-AM 870 ESPN Gorham Sports Talk

Maryland

3 stations (FM - 2 AM - 1)

Call Letters Frequency Name Location Format Notes
WAFY-FM 103.1 Key 103 Frederick Hot AC
WWEG-FM 106.9 The Eagle Hagerstown Classic Hits
WARK-AM 1490 WARK Hagerstown Talk

Massachusetts

3 stations (FM - 3)

Call Letters Frequency Name Location Format Notes
WPXC-FM 102.9 Pixy 103 Hyannis Active Rock
WFRQ-FM 101.1 Frank FM Mashpee Variety Hits
WFQR-FM 93.5 Frank FM Harwich Port Variety Hits

New Hampshire

11 stations (FM - 9 AM - 2)

Call Letters Frequency Name Location Format Notes
WWHQ-FM 101.5 The Hawk Meredith Classical Being placed in trust pending sale
WLNH-FM 98.3 WLNH Laconia Hot AC
WNNH-FM 99.1 WNNH Concord Classical Being placed in trust pending sale
WFNQ-FM 106.3 Frank FM Nashua Classic Hits/Variety Hits
WLKZ-FM 104.9 The Hawk Wolfeboro Rock
WJYY-FM 105.5 WJYY Concord Top-40
WNHW-FM 93.3 The Wolf Belmont Country
WHDQ-FM 106.1 Q106 Claremont Classic Rock
WFYX-FM 96.3 WFYX Walpole Oldies
WTSV-AM 1230 The Score Claremont Sports
WEMJ-AM 1490 WEMJ Laconia News/Talk

New Jersey

3 stations (FM - 1 AM - 2)

Call Letters Frequency Name Location Format Notes
WPST-FM 94.5 WPST Trenton CHR
WCHR-AM 920 WCHR Trenton Religious
WNJE-AM 1040 WNJE Flemington ESPN Simulcast of WEPN New York

Pennsylvania

8 stations (FM - 3 AM - 5)

Call Letters Frequency Name Location Format Notes
WSBG-FM 93.5 93-5 SBG Stroudsburg Hot AC
WWYY-FM 107.1 The Bone Allentown Rock
WODE-FM 99.9 The Hawk Allentown Classic Hits
WVPO-AM 840 WVPO Stroudsburg Talk
WPLY-AM 960 WPLY Mt. Pocono Talk
WEEX-AM 1230 Sports Monster Allentown ESPN Sports
WBYN-AM 1160 Alive Lehighton Religious
WTKZ-AM 1320 WTKZ Allentown ESPN Sports Change to oldies was rumored

Vermont

10 stations (FM - 8 AM - 2)

Call Letters Frequency Name Location Format Notes
WORK-FM 107.1 Frank FM Barre Classic Hits/Variety Hits
WWFY-FM 100.9 Froggy Berlin Country
WWOD-FM 104.3 Oldies 104.3 Hartford Oldies
WXLF-FM 95.3 The Wolf White River Jct. Country
WZLF-FM 107.1 The Wolf Bellows Falls Country
WEXP-FM 101.5 The Fox Brandon Classic Rock
WTHK-FM 100.7 The Fox Wilmington Classic Rock
WMOO-FM 92.1 WMOO Derby Center Adult Contemporary
WSNO-AM 1450 WSNO Barre Talk
WIKE-AM 1490 Stereo 1490 Newport Country

Former Nassau stations

MAINE
  • WHXR 106.7 North Windham - Album Oriented Rock (Now owned by The Presence Radio Network as WXTP with Catholic Talk programming)
NEW HAMPSHIRE
  • WWHK 102.3 Concord - Classic Rock (operated under LMA with Capitol Broadcasting from 2005 to August 22, 2008. Never owned by Nassau outright.)
NEW JERSEY
  • WNJO/WTHK 94.5 (until 2005) 97.5 (2005–2006) Trenton Classic Rock (now Rhythmic Hot AC WNUW, and formerly Smooth Jazz WJJZ, currently owned by Greater Media)
  • WTOC 1360 Newton - Standards/Oldies/MOR (became country then Oldies then MOR and now again Oldies and owned by Clear Channel but up for sale and in a trust)
  • WNNJ 103.7 Newton Classic Hits (now owned by Clear Channel and Classic Rock)
  • WSUS 102.3 Franklin AC (Now Owned by Clear Channel)
  • WHCY 106.3 Blairstown CHR (now Hot AC and owned by Clear Channel and in a trust and up for sale)
  • WOBM 1160 Long Branch Standards (Now owned by Millennium)
  • WADB 1310 Asbury Park Standards (Now Country and owned by Millennium)
  • WCHR-FM 105.7 Toms River Classic Hits (Now owned by Millennium)
  • WBBO 98.5 Toms River CHR (now Country and owned by Press Communications)
  • WJLK 94.3 Asbury Park Hot AC (Now Owned By Millennium)
  • WOBM-FM 92.7 Toms River AC (Now Owned by Millennium)
  • WRDR 104.9 Egg Harbor Country 2003-04, Smooth Jazz 2004-05, Classic Hits Since 2005 (now owned by Millennium)
NEW YORK
(These stations were LMAs and never owned by Nassau outright)
  • WDLC 1490 Port Jervis Oldies (Owned by Sunrise and Sports)
  • WTSX 96.7 Port Jervis Oldies (Now owned by Sunrise becoming Hot AC/Variety Hits, then Country, and now Variety Hits/Hot AC)
PENNSYLVANIA
  • WFKB (Now WBYN-FM) 107.5 Frank FM , Reading, was Classic Hits (Now Religious) Never owned by Nassau but managed through an LMA
VERMONT
  • WNHV 910 White River Junction - Sports (Went silent in May 2010 due to transmitter failure; license deleted by the FCC in September 2011)

References

  1. ^ http://www.fybush.com/NERW/2009/090921/nerw.html
  2. ^ Webcast for June 30, 2011, Hosted by Kelly Ortiz, insideradio.com
  3. ^ Nassau Broadcasting's lenders lower the boom, Radio Business Report, September 16, 2011
  4. ^ Nassau Broadcasting Faces Involuntary Bankruptcy in Delaware, Bloomberg, September 15, 2011
  5. ^ Nassau seeks Chapter 11, not 7, Radio & Television Business Report, October 6, 2011

External links


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