One of state’s oldest and most well-known “oldies” radio stations has a new owner.
The family owned Buckley Broadcasting is selling its 57-year-old Bloomfield-based WDRC AM and FM stations to Westport-based Connoisseur Media.
Staff was notified of the sale Wednesday morning by Buckley president and CEO Joe Bilotta.
“For over a half of a century Buckley Broadcasting has been the steward of one of the most recognized and respected call letters in broadcasting,” Bilotta wrote in an email to staff before meeting with them in Bloomfield Wednesday. “After much reflection and discussion, the Board of Trustees has decided that the reality of the evolving competitive landscape, and our sincere desire to see this historic brand continue, are cause for a change in the ownership of our Connecticut properties.” he continued. “With this acquisition, Connoisseur will be the leading radio broadcaster in the State of Connecticut and they are very excited to have the Buckley stations as part of their growing company.”
Terms of the agreement were not disclosed. Closing of the transaction is subject to FCC consent and other customary closing conditions, Bilotta said.
Other Buckley stations in Connecticut that are part of the sale are WMMW AM, Meriden, WWC0 AM, Waterbury, and WSNG AM in Torrington.
Connoisseur, founded in 2004 by president/CEO Jeff Warshaw and Mike Driscoll, owns 36 radio stations across the country including WPLR, WYBC, the Fox and Star in Milford, Connecticut.
“We are incredibly gratified and proud to take over these legendary stations,” said Warshaw. “We have no major changes planned in any way right now and are looking forward to getting in there and meeting everyone,” he said. “I think we have demonstrated our commitment to Connecticut and will be there for the long haul.”
Rumors of the sale of Buckley’s Connecticut stations began surfacing shortly after it sold its stellar New York station, WOR Radio, to Clear Channel Media and Entertainment in August, 2012. Buckley also owns several radio stations in California.
“All businesses have lifecycles, and the radio industry certainly has seen its share of change in recent years,” Bilotta said in a press release issued Wednesday. “ Our decision to negotiate with, and eventually sell WDRC to Connoisseur, gives our audience, advertisers and employees access to the considerable resources of this multi-dimensional media and entertainment company.”
“Connoisseur Media is a well-respected and positively positioned radio operator,” said Buckley vice president and general manager Eric Fahnoe after meeting with staff. “Their posture in operating their properties leads the industry and we are looking forward to becoming part of a company that will now cover the New Haven and Hartford markets and become the largest radio operator in Connecticut.”
Programming and staffing is expected to continue as is until the closing is completed in June.
WDRC AM, is considered the oldest radio station in Connecticut, begun in 1920 in New Haven by Franklin Doolittle of Doolittle Radio Corporation (WDRC.) The FM station began broadcasting in the 1930s after Doolittle moved the operation to Hartford.
Buckley Broadcasting became part owners in 1957, eventually taking over the entire station in 1959. WDRC established itself over the years as a primarily “oldies” station featuring songs from the 1950s to 1990s.
At one time, the station also sponsored regular, live “Big D Big Show” concerts at the Bushnell spotlighting then-trending performers including Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, Bobby Vinton, Three Dog Night, Eric Clapton, Led Zeppelin, The Rascals and Gene Pitney. Its published “Big D Big Sound Survey” tracked record sales in the Greater Hartford area each week.
WDRC AM, dubbed “The Talk of Connecticut,” features talk shows with local hosts including Brad Davis as well as several syndicated shows. Current FM personalities include Ron Sedaille, Mike Stevens, Kim Zachary and Floyd Wright.