Delmarva Broadcasting’s sale and the future of radio news

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Good afternoon,

Delmarva Broadcasting had an out of town owner but never acted like one.

Under Steinman Communications – a regional mediacompany that owned the daily newspaper in Lancaster, PA as well as weekly papers and a widely read farm journal – Delmarva remained an active member of the community and a champion of radio journalism.

Its news flagship station, WDEL resisted the troubling trend toward downsizing or axing radio news operations. In fact, Delmarva doubled down on the news side by acquiring an FM station that operates under the WDEL format.

Meanwhile, hit station WSTW maintained strong ratings in a tough market. Over the years, the company expanded on Delmarva, but never had regional or national aspirations.

We learned this week that Steinman has agreed to sell Delmarva Broadcasting for a reported $18.5 million to Forever Media, a Pennsylvania-based radio group.

So far, neither Forever Media nor Delmarva Broadcasting has commented on the sale or future plans.

If history is any indicator, there is reason for nervousness when it comes to the news side.

Radio news represents a sizable investment in smaller markets. Radio, while faring better than print media, is not immune from online competition.

When AM news and talk station WILM was sold to giant Clear Channel, now iHeart, the news operation was eventually dismantled in favor of syndicated conservative talk show hosts.

WDEL maintained and even upgraded its news presence in the post WILM world, winning many awards along the way It also has a strong online news presence and is not afraid to ruffle features with investigative reporting

Will that change under new owners? Let’s hope not. – Doug Rainey, chief content officer.

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