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LHTC Media of West Virginia acquires Spectrum Radio’s assets in Fairmont


Times West Virginian

FAIRMONT, W.Va. — A transaction that began in September and encountered several hurdles along the way was made official Thursday as Laurel Highland Total Communications Inc. (LHTC) and local subsidiary LHTC Media of West Virginia purchased assets of Spectrum Radio in Fairmont.

The assets purchased by LHTC include 94.3 WRLF, 100.9 WZST, 920 AM and 95.7 WFMN and 1490 AM WTCS.

The agreed upon price of the transaction was $650,000, but in order to finalize the agreement, LHTC paid a total of $860,000 to officially take over Spectrum’s assets and pay off all parties involved.

In order to pay off all creditors, which included the Marion County Development Authority and the West Virginia Jobs Investment Trust Board (WVJIT), and close the deal, LHTC, led by its leadership and President and CEO Jim Kail decided, to pay off these creditors in conjunction with Fantasia Media.

While the original price tag for the transaction was $650,000, nothing could be completed until liens were released from the loans and everything was completely paid off.

“The asset purchase agreement called for the delivery of those assets free and clear of all liens,” Kail said. “Unfortunately, we found out after we went to close that several of the liens were not going to be released.

“That’s what held everything up. We decided to work through that.”

In order to work through that and pay off the liens, which were filed to be released Thursday, everything had to be paid in full.

The Marion County Development Authority had to be paid $70,000 while WVJIT had to be paid $160,000.

LHTC paid the entirety of the WVJIT debt and paid $50,000 to the MCDA while Fantasia Media paid $20,000.

Overall, LHTC paid $210,000 more than the original agreement, but did so in order to push the transaction through and get everyone paid.

“That’s the level of commitment we have,” Kail said. “We’re committed to the areas we serve. That includes taking care of the employees, taking care of our customers and we’re in it for the long term.”

Getting all creditors paid off and finalizing the deal is something all parties involver are happy to have done.

“(LHTC) did not owe a dime more than the original deal,” LHTC Media of West Virginia Market Manager and owner of Fantasia media, Nick Fantasia said. “They stepped up and they kicked in to pay West Virginia JIT, and Fantasia Broadcasting stepped up in conjunction with LHTC and we paid off Marion County, because everybody decided it was the right thing to do and keep the asset in this community.”

Marion County Commissioner Randy Elliott is pleased that the county is no longer owed any money as a result of this transaction, and the book has been closed on the deal.

“I want to say that Nick Fantasia helped pay everything off and made the county whole,” Elliott said. “It’s the county’s money, and Nick made sure that everything was taken care of and the county is whole. We’re happy that the transaction has taken place, and we have a valuable business entity in Marion County that is going to stay here.”

The process of LHTC Media’s acquisition of Spectrum’s assets in Fairmont began in September, Kail said. Kail began managing the company in a time broker agreement that began Oct. 15.

Now, with the entire process finished as of June 8, Kail, Elliott and Fantasia are happy to move forward from what had become a difficult transaction.

“From a personal standpoint I had goals that I wanted to accomplish (with the transaction),” Fantasia said. “First and foremost was that there be no disruption in the programming. That was very important to me.

“With all the problems Spectrum had and me being thrust into that role to try and keep the wheels on the wagon to keep the radio station on the air, there were a lot of challenges there.

“Then, we had that contrived issue created over the loans, and while people were campaigning on our back, it was causing problems with the transaction. Jobs were in jeopardy. Programming was in jeopardy.”

With the studio rules that are in place, Fantasia said that in the event the station went off the air, there is a good chance it would be outside of Fairmont when it came back.

“While people were creating their own personal agendas, it was creating some trepidation within this building, and it was creating an issue that we might lose this asset in the community,” Fantasia said. “Thanks to Commissioner Elliott and Kris Cinalli. While other commissioners were campaigning, they were quietly working and helping us get through the obstacles that we needed to get through.”

Keeping the radio station at its current Fairmont location was something that was of upmost importance to not only Fantasia, but Elliott, as well, for a variety of reasons.

“I’m glad that it got sold and I’m also glad for the retention of the jobs that are involved,” Elliott said. “The radio station is very important in this area for the entertainment value, for the value of reporting the news, for the value of election results and for the value of our sporting events that we have locally. On top of that, it serves a really good venue for local businesses to advertise.”

The stations purchased by LHTC Media broadcast East Fairmont football and basketball games while also serving as the flagship home for West Virginia University, the market exclusive broadcasting home for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Penguins and NASCAR while also broadcasting the Pittsburgh Pirates and providing local news and election results.

“The radio station is very, very important to this area, and I’m glad the continuation of it is going to take place,” Elliott said. “This is a growing, prosperous area with an I-79 Corridor that’s doing very well. I’m sure the new owners will do very well here in Marion County.”

Kail echoed Elliott’s views on the potential of the region, and he is excited for the future of the company.

“We see a lot of potential here,” Kail said. “We see all the development that is going on here. We have an arrangement with (WVU), which we feel is a very valuable situation.”

Kail said that now that LHTC has taken over, he hopes to continue to invest in the community and provide service and entertainment to the community.

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