Va. radio network seeks to split music, news formats with purchase of two signals

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Virginia’s Commonwealth Public Broadcasting Corp. is expanding its reach in central and eastern Virginia by purchasing two area FM stations.

Commonwealth has agreed to purchase 1,400-watt WBBT 107.3 FM in Powhatan, Va., and 5,200-watt WWLB 93.1 FM in Ettrick, Va., from Alpha Media, according to a statement from Commonwealth. The transaction is subject to FCC approval, which is expected in the first quarter of 2018. Commonwealth did not disclose the amount of the sale.

The network plans to devote classic-hits format WBBT and country station WWLB to classical and jazz. It will also switch its 10,000-watt WCVE-FM in Richmond to an all-news/talk format. The station now airs news and music. WCVE will add programs including On Point, Here and Now, BBC Newshour, As it Happens, Only a Game, The Big Listen and The Splendid Table.

“This transaction fulfills a long-held objective, enabling us to meet the dual listening demands of our radio audience,” Commonwealth President Curtis Monk said.

Some listeners to the north and east of WCVE will not be able to pick up the new music stations. “The loss will be minimal,” Lisa Tait, VP of development, told Current.

Commonwealth won $182 million in the FCC spectrum auction earlier this year with the sale of spectrum for two stations in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C.

The combined sale made Commonwealth among the biggest pubcasting winners in the auction. Last month, Commonwealth consolidated operations with WVPT-TV in Harrisonburg, Va.

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