Our radio stations - WCEH-AM/FM, WDXQ-AM/FX, WQXZ-FM and WWKM-FM - have been for sale for some time. Our team wants to purchase these stations, in order to preserve and keep them available for the many communities in the 10+ county area we serve.
I'm Jay Braswell, the team leader. I've been a working broadcaster for over 40 years. When it comes to small town radio, I've pretty much done it all - from part-time disc-jockey to station owner...and almost everything in-between. My history with these radio stations goes back to 1973. It was my first, full-time radio employment (while not in school or living under someone else's roof). WCEH was a first-class operation (and always had been), its facilities far superior to most other stations, no matter the market size. I stayed for a while and learned a lot, but left to chase the dream. I never expected to come back. Well, never say never, because after nearly 20 years, I returned to WCEH as General Manager. Hawkinsville has been home for us since 1992.
James D. Popwell, Sr. was a man who did more for me than anyone could ever expect or deserve. "Big" Jim spoke the first words ever heard on WCEH in 1952, and lived to see the station observe its 50th anniversary. Over a 10-year period, he allowed me to take him from owner of a single AM/FM combo to a group owner-operator. Prior to his death on Christmas Eve 2003, he sold all his broadcast holdings, and I worked on several successful consulting projects.
In mid-2008, I returned to work with the folks Jim sold his stations to, and my team and I have struggled to lift the stations out of the deep hole they'd fallen into. We've definitely had success, but we're only about a third of the way to where we can and should be. The present owners decided to sell their 15 radio stations last year, to focus on other business holdings. So, here we are.
What We Need
To the point, we need a net of $750,000.00.
The purchase of the licenses, equipment, furniture, fixtures, the 2,800 square foot studio/office building, the 300 foot WCEH-AM tower and roughly 11 acres of land will require $400,000.00. Three other towers will be leased from the tower owners.
There are physical and technical plant repairs and upgrades needed, along with adding the sales and support staff necessary to fully reach the potential these radio stations have. The "I'd rather be safe than sorry" amount needed for all that is UP TO $350,000.00. It is unlikely that more than 50% of that will be needed, but too much is much better than not enough. The unused remainder will be held for operating reserve.
This is NOT a solicitation to sell stock or any other ownership arrangement. That said, we would not be opposed to confidential discussions with all qualified, serious equity investors. Complete operational and financial information can be made available.
Our small team has well over 100 years of small-market broadcast experience, and we absolutely believe we're up to the task. We love these stations and the people we serve. Frankly, this is nothing less than survival for all of us. Any other potential purchasers are NOT interested in keeping these stations local and community-based. As such, our team will most likely be unemployed and that's frightening. We need your help to keep on keepin' on.
Even if we do NOT raise the full amount of our goal, it might still be possible to structure a deal to purchase the stations - possibly fewer stations than the entire group.
The personal negative impact already noted, more important is the loss to the communities served. Here is one example of what I mean. these radio stations broadcast high-school and local college sports for 4 institutions...very important to both the schools and their student-athletes. These stations are the 24 hour a day, 7 day a week voices of the communities. In a Raleigh or an Atlanta, where there are many, many voices available - any single one is not critical. In places like Bleckley, Dooly, Pulaski and Wilcox Counties, our radio stations are it - pretty much all there is. Without locally focused, community oriented radio stations, everyone loses.
As it is with life in general, there are NOT any guarantees with this project. I wish I could say we will be wildly successful, with your help. But, that'd be a lie...there are just too many unpredictable factors that could have a negative impact. However, I will say this - with all the odds stacked against us in mid-2008, we not only survived - we improved! And, we continue to survive under daily stress and strain.
Let me be very clear that we all know that it has NOT been us that have kept the wheels turning. God is solidly in this, and has helped us at every turn. I believe God is leading us through this strange (to us) concept of raising the capital we need. If it is His will, we will get what we need to move forward.
Other Ways You Can Help
We know that many cannot (or will choose not to) help financially. All we ask is that you pray about this, then do whatever whatever God leads you to do. If nothing else, share our need with your acquaintances, co-workers, friends and family.
Thank you for your consideration.