iHeartMedia & Connoisseur Media Swap Frederick & Erie

99.9 WFRE Frederick MD Connoisseur MediaiHeartMedia and Connoissuer Media have announced a station swap as the Aloha Trust sends News/Talk 930 WFMD and Country 99.9 WFRE Frederick MD to Connoisseur for their seven stations in Erie PA.

iHeartMedia will acquire Country “93.9 The Wolf” WTWF, Variety Hits “94.7 Bob-FM” WXBB, AC “95.9 Lite-FM” WLTM, CHR “Star 104” WRTS, Classic Rock “Rocket 105” WRKT, Sports “1330 The Fan” WFNN, News/Talk “Jet Radio” 1400 WJET

iHeartMedia and the Aloha Trust announced today a strategic station exchange with Connoisseur Media across two U.S. markets. Under the agreement, iHeartMedia will acquire six radio stations from Connoisseur Media in Erie, Pennsylvania and one in Mina, New York and Connoisseur Media will acquire two stations from the Aloha Trust in Frederick, Maryland. The agreement is expected to close in the second quarter of 2019, subject to FCC consent and other customary closing conditions.

Under the agreement, WRTS-FM, WRKT-FM, WXBB-FM, WTWF-FM, WJET-AM and WFNN-AM in Erie and WLTM-FM in Mina will join iHeartMedia. These seven stations will also be available on iHeartRadio, the all-in-one digital music, on demand, podcasting and live streaming radio service. Connoisseur Media will acquire WFRE-FM and WFMD-AM in Frederick from the Aloha Trust.

“iHeart is getting a remarkable team and an amazing array of brands. We have owned the stations for 13 years and have tremendous gratitude for the people of Erie. We are excited to enter the Frederick market with these legendary properties,” said Jeffrey Warshaw, CEO of Connoisseur Media.

“We’re very pleased to have the opportunity to expand our reach and establish a presence in the Erie and Mina markets,” said Dan Lankford, Region President of Allentown/Harrisburg for iHeartMedia. “We can’t wait to add these seven amazing brands to our family of platforms, and we know that Connoisseur Media is looking forward to adding WFRE-FM and WFMD-AM to their company.”

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  1. Les Talk says

    Good! Connoisseur Media will probably keep WFRE/WFMD as is. I was very concerned of yet another K-Love deal for 99.9, or almost as bad another “Froggy” to land on 99.9 with a sale to Forever.

    1. cartwright says

      I honestly don’t know which is worse there. Never have I seen a company with a more outdated product than Forever

    2. Nathan Obral says

      Forever seems to be okay with having Cumberland as their eastern end of operations. I can’t imagine they’d have ever been interested in a duopoly in a market like Frederick, most of their clusters have three or four stations, sometimes five.

      1. Eric Jon Magnuson says

        I agree that Forever might not have wanted just an AM/FM combo here. Still, Cumberland is definitely not its easternmost market: At the very least, it currently has a cluster around York and Hanover, plus a pair of FMs on Maryland’s Eastern Shore (in Easton); also, it’s still in the process of buying Delmarva Broadcasting.

        1. Les Talk says

          Forever has destroyed the Cumberland stations it purchased. 105.3 WFRB and GO 106 were both well known, well ran operations. True, the stations were often voicetracked. But were voicetracked with long, well-known and well-liked personalities from the area. They don’t know what to do with 1450 WTBO. It’s gone from hot a/c to oldies. They flipped WFRB to their stupid Froggy gimmick that grew old 10 years ago. And also despite you can hear Froggy stations all over the dial in the area that are owned by them. They trashed GO 106 for another “Rocky” station. And, dumped all the jocks for Westwood One. There is no local identity at all anymore. I didn’t think a local owner could be as bland as IHR – but Forever has found a way.

          1. cartwright says

            Forever will ruin any station in gets its hands on. iHeart may have some blandness for sure, but Forever easily wins the “worst owner” award in my book for the hilariously awful and amateur sounding stations they have. I’d choose a professional sounding iHeart Premium Choice jukebox anyday.

  2. John Gallagher says

    I’m in the Erie market and worked for Star 104 when it was K104 and 1330 the Fan was WEYZ. This is indeed interesting news and wondering if iHeart will create a ‘Breeze’ format station here with the acquisition.

    1. Nathan Obral says

      They wouldn’t need to use the “Breeze” name per se, especially if a brand like “Lite” has stronger name cache in the market. (iHeart did take their “Lite FM” in Chicago back to a softish AC right after Christmas 2018.)

      Does iHeart own any variety hits stations with the “Bob” name? Obviously they own several “JackFM”s and have a very successful “Lake” next door in Cleveland…

      1. Charles Everett says

        Erie already has Oldies in the 88-92 part of the FM band, plus 94.7 Bob FM fills the Classic Hits hole. No purpose in diluting the audience further with Soft Oldies.

        1. Nathan Obral says

          WMCE is a non-comm and variety hits on Bob do not equal classic hits. Nor does a straightforward gold-based AC equate any of those.

          And with all due respect, iHeart has had lasting success 100 miles to the west with classic hits on WMJI and variety hits on The Lake, both stations sharing a lot of the same 80s titles now. To say straightforward AC or classic hits won’t dilute the market is a laughable assumption.

          1. Nathan Obral says

            *would dilute the market

  3. Eric Jon Magnuson says

    I shouldn’t be surprised that iHeart/Aloha was looking for a swap. Still, I would’ve assumed that Alpha (which already operates in the adjacent Hagerstown/Chambersburg metro) would’ve had more of an incentive to do so here. Other groups that operate nearby (e.g., West Virginia Radio and the aforementioned Forever) probably would’ve had less of a desire to swap.

    1. Les Talk says

      Is Alpha even buying anymore? I thought they were only selling.

      1. Eric Jon Magnuson says

        I agree that Alpha wouldn’t have made a true purchase here (or really anywhere else right now). Still, I figured that Alpha would’ve had some interest in combining this pair with its existing Hagerstown/Chambersburg cluster (partly since it also has a strong cluster in Fredericksburg, Va.)–and should still have enough other stations that it wouldn’t mind disposing of, via a swap.

      2. Nathan Obral says

        Alpha has been in divestment mode after Larry Wilson was ousted.

        Problem for them is that the Digity chain was a purchase for the sake of making one, and it has a lot of stations that will take a long time to sell off (those stations also weighed down Digity’s predecessor NextMedia) in an industry where EMF is the only one in buying mode. So Alpha will be around for a while longer.

  4. cartwright says

    Connoisseur has already trimmed quite a bit of the local airstaff in Erie over the years, but there are definitely still several live bodies in the building doing airshifts during the week. I would imagine in a market the size of Erie, outside of AM Drive most of these stations will pick up Premium Choice playlists and jocks.

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