Business

Deal reshapes Triangle radio market

Posted August 10, 2009 1:05 p.m. EDT
Updated August 10, 2009 5:40 p.m. EDT

— Sports talk radio will soon have one parent voice on AM, FM and in Spanish across the Triangle.

In a complex series of transactions involving the sale of multiple properties and format changes disclosed Monday afternoon, Capitol Broadcasting is acquiring WDNC 620 AM “The Bull” sports radio from Curtis Media. WDNC is based in Durham.

Capitol owns and operates 99.9 The Fan FM station in Raleigh. It is affiliated with ESPN Radio.

At the same time, Curtis Media is acquiring 850 The Buzz AM in Raleigh from McClatchey Broadcasting and plans to change the format from sports talk to music. Curtis Media also operates WPTF 680 AM in Raleigh and other stations across the state.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

The deals and other related transactions are subject to approval from the Federal Communications Commission. Approval is expected within three to five months, according to Capitol Broadcasting Vice President George Habel.

As a result of the transactions, several well-known local radio personalities will be moving across the dial.

David Glenn, currently at 850 The Buzz, will move to 99.9 The Fan and host a daily show from noon to 3 p.m.

Adam Gold and Joe Ovies of The Buzz will move to 620 AM and host a morning talk show.

Also as part of the deal, Capitol Broadcasting is selling North Carolina News Network to Curtis Media.

Capitol will broaden its station portfolio by acquiring WCLY 1550 AM in Raleigh and will change the format of that station to ESPN Deportes.

“The point for us is to add to the sports portfolio,” said Habel. “That began when we converted 99.9 to sports talk from country two years ago and we revamped the sports section of WRAL.com.

“These are the next steps – to add to our AM radio to our portfolio and to service the growing Latino market,” he added.

Existing contracts between WDNC and Duke University for football and men's and women's basketball will be honored, Habel said. He also said Durham Bulls baseball would return to WDNC after a two-year hiatus during which Bulls games were carried by The Fan. According to Habel, Bulls broadcasts will likely be divided between the two stations.

With the addition of Glenn, Gold and Ovies, Capitol adds three of the region’s best-known radio personalities.

“David Glenn is very popular and has a huge following, especially among ACC fans,” Habel said. “Adam and Joe are pretty much an institution.”

Asked if there might be layoffs as a result of the transition, Habel said, "It is too early to tell."

In acquiring North Carolina News Network, Curtis Media augments its statewide news gathering network.

“That was a hard decision for Capitol Broadcasting,” Habel said of the decision to sell NCNN, which he said had been part of the company for some four decades. “But this moves the brand to Curtis, another local company that is clearly committed to radio news and to local public affairs programming.”

Jim Goodmon, president and chief executive officer of Capitol Broadcasting, described the deal as one in which Capitol provides “sports fans differing programming options up and down the radio dial. This adds to our web, television and radio sports platform for listeners, viewers and advertisers.”

The sports radio operations will be directed by Brian Maloney, the longtime general manager at 850 The Buzz. He will report to Habel.

Capitol plans to house the radio station operations at its Microspace subsidiary’s offices in North Raleigh where a new broadcast studio is under construction.

Bill McClatchey, the owner of 850 The Buzz, plans to leave the broadcast business.

“The Buzz was the Triangle’s first sports station,” he said in a statement. “We built a strong brand over the past decade – entertaining and effective for advertisers. It’s gratifying that it will be carried on at Capitol.”

Don Curtis, founder and chief executive officer of Curtis media, said the addition of NCNN “is a good strategic fit.” NCNN has affiliates across the state and bases its news team in Raleigh.

“Already WPTF has the largest (radio) newsroom in the state, originates State Government Radio and the Southern Farm Network,” he added. “The North Carolina News Network extends our services to 75 stations reaching 1.6 million listeners.”