Would Rick Buckley Have Sold WOR?
When we asked Buckley CEO Joseph Bilotta if he thought Rick Buckley would ever sell WOR, he said he's asked himself that question 365 times over the last 365 days. Rick Buckley died unexpectedly just about one year ago (July 31, 2011) after suffering a brain embolism on Long Island. On Monday, it was announced that the call letters so closely associated with the Buckley brand would soon become property of Clear Channel.
Bilotta told Radio Ink, "Rick always said to me you never get possessed by a possession." Bilotta says the deal to sell WOR to Clear Channel was approved by the Buckley family and the board of directors and they were unanimous that they wanted to sell it to Clear Channel.
Bilotta said the price was fair and he handled the negotiations directly with Clear Channel's John Hogan. There was never a broker. Billotta says he and the late Rick Buckley walked into the station 23 years ago and wound up buying the station for $22.5 million. "We bought it and had one hell of a run. We did very well." Bilotta spoke about the specific challenges the small company faced. "In 1996, when everyone started building up and we didn't have the resources, we survived. When 9/11 hit, that had an impact on the economy and we survived. Then the downturn in 2008, we survived."
Billota also said this was a one-off deal and there is not discussion about shedding other Buckley Broadcasting assets. He was calling all his managers Monday afternoon to assure them that was the case. Clear Channel will start LMA'ing the station on Wednesday. Bilotta says Clear Channel has told him that it will be business as usual at the station and they are behind the spoken word format.
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