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Inside Bulloch Business with DeWayne Grice - 'Old-school radio guy' buys Statesboro stations
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Business Ticker

• Food World has begun a $1 million renovation, redesign and reset of the Fair Road store.  Construction should be completed by mid-September. Changes include the addition throughout the store of organic and healthy products, which will be indicated with green stripes under the item information and pricing. The store has also added self-checkouts, a fresh-cut fruit bar and a cheese bar, and the deli is being renovated to include a hot bar with fresh soup, salads and sandwiches. The walk-in beer cooler will be doubled in size, the store’s wine selection will be expanded to more than 200 varieties. An entire section will be devoted to probiotics, and frozen foods will be expanded to include a large selection of organic products in addition to natural and organic dairy products.

• Prosurity Insurance has relocated its Statesboro office to 332 S. Main St., the former location of the Statesboro Convention and Visitors Bureau. The local branch is owned and operated by Steve and Lisa Brooks. Prosurity specializes in a large portfolio of insurance products such as life, disability, critical illness and retirement. The agency has  served the Statesboro market for 10 years.

• Y-Delta is working behind Sallie Zetterower Elementary School off Cawana Road near the S&S Greenway on a $1 million sewer and water expansion for the city of Statesboro that will feed Connection Church and opens up more than 600 acres for new development in that area. The project includes the installation of a master pump station, a 12-inch water main and a master sewer outfall line.

• Farmers Market Vendor of the Week: Hunter Cattle Company

Neal Ardman of St. Marys, operating under the corporate name Radio Statesboro Inc., has closed on the acquisition of a six-station cluster that serves Statesboro.

The $600,000 acquisition from Cecil Staton's Georgia Eagle Media Inc. closed last week. In the structure of the deal, Staton continues ownership of the towers, which will be leased to Radio Statesboro, in what is known as a vertical real estate deal.

The stations include WPMX-FM Eagle 102.9 (adult contemporary), WHKN-FM 94.9 (country), WMCD-FM 107.3 (Fox News), WZBX-FM 106.5 (classic rock), WWNS-AM 1240 (news) and WPTB-AM 850 (Yahoo Sports).
Staton purchased two of the stations, WPMX and WHKN, in 2004 from Jim Popwell, and the remaining four in 2007 from Capital Communications Company of Michigan.

Staton, a Republican, resigned from his 18th District state senate seat earlier this year to become vice chancellor for extended education at the University System of Georgia.

The ownership history of the stations is almost as colorful and entertaining as the stations themselves. Bob Thompson originally launched WWNS in the 1940s. Thompson sold the station to Don, Mike and Worth McDougald in the late 1950s.
Don was working at the time as the comptroller for Georgia Teachers College. Worth was teaching at the University of Georgia, and Mike owned radio stations in Gaston, Alabama, and Rome, Georgia. In the '60s, the McDougald brothers put WMCD-FM 100.1 on the air. You now know where the call letters "MCD" came from.

They sold the stations in 1975 to Billy Woodall and Cecil Grider. Nate Hirsch purchased WWNS and WMCD in 1980. In 1996, Hirsch purchased Sylvania's WZBX and WSYL-AM 1490.

Hirsch sold his four stations to Capital Communications in 2004 and remained on for a short while as manager of the stations. Capital purchased WPTB from Northland Communications that same year. Northland had acquired WPTB a few years earlier from Tommy Cowan. WSYL was shut down last year.

Capital sold WMCD's original 100.1 FM frequency after acquiring Claxton's WCLA-FM 107.3 and moving WMCD to 107.3.

Don and Worth are deceased. Mike is still active in radio and currently serves as the chairman of the Georgia Public Telecommunications Commission, which oversees Georgia Public Broadcasting.

If you are still with me, this shows how volatile the radio industry has become in recent years. Radio Statesboro's Ardman plans to invest in upgrading technology and equipment at the stations. He also plans to file an application with the Federal Communications Commission to increase the power of WPTB from its current 1,000 watts to 50,000 watts. He will convert WZBX from classic rock to a Top 40 format. And he plans to switch the formats on WWNS and WPTB, meaning Yahoo Sports will be heard on 1240 AM, and news will be heard on 850 AM.

Arman is adding these stations to his current holdings, which he operates with his wife, Elizabeth, who is a meteorologist.
Longtime radio personality Buddy Horn has retired from WMCD/WWNS. Other than his retirement, all of the other personnel will continue their employment. In addition, Ardman plans to hire more staff to increase the stations' presence in the market.

"I am an old-school radio guy. I believe our success relies on us being live and local," Ardman said. "My goal is to get the stations re-acclimated to the communities which we serve. I look forward to working with business and community leaders as we build a strong local presence in this market."

Please email DeWayne at dgrice@statesboroherald.com or give him a call at (912) 489-9499.

 

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