(The longtime owner-operator of WCLG, Gary Bowers, died in December 2011 and his widow has been running the station.)
Radio insiders tell me WVRC should have filed an application with the Federal Communications Commission for either a Transfer of Control or a Local Marketing Agreement, but neither shows up in FCC filing reports. (Calls Friday to the FCC's media relations office reached an answering machine. Sequestration furloughs, perhaps?)
While I couldn't find a Transfer of Control application for WVRC, I did find an interesting FCC public comment filing from Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth of Arlington, Va., on behalf of WVRC/The Dominion Post, and companies in Nebraska and Illinois that also own daily newspapers and radio stations in the same market, calling on the FCC to relax restrictions on such cross ownership.
The letter suggests that, not only is newspaper-radio cross ownership not adversely affecting competitors, but may be necessary for the survival of the client newspapers.
It states that one of its client newspapers (unnamed) has lost 20 percent of its subscribers in the past five years, while classified ad billings have dropped 35 percent and print ads are down 15 percent in the past two years -- and says the declines have been steeper at the two other newspapers.
"The synergies between a local newspaper and a local broadcaster are obvious, particularly in smaller markets. While a newspaper or broadcast station by itself might not have sufficient resources to maintain a robust local news operation, in the (clients') experience, combined radio and newspaper operations can produce sufficient revenues to support robust local news operations by both media," the letter states.
The commentary seems to suggest that the survival of the client newspapers will depend on having the news operations work even more closely together. (Sounds like the West Virginia Media model, which has not worked out that great.)
"As both newspapers and broadcast stations face ever-growing competition in today's multi-media environment, it is imperative that they be allowed to band together to preserve and enhance the delivery of local content," the letter states.
Finally, I'm pleased to pass along word that the damaged concrete section on the Charleston station platform has finally been repaired, thanks to the efforts of station manager Matt Crouch and Amtrak's Safety Committee.
Not only does that enhance passenger safety and convenience, but provides a much better first impression of Charleston for arriving passengers. Now, we need to work on getting a station sign, so that of the 500-plus destinations served by Amtrak, Charleston won't be the only one without an identifying sign.
Reach Phil Kabler at ph...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1220.