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Roslyn native buys LI radio stations

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Posted: Thursday, August 2, 2012 1:48 pm

The radio business is a family affair for Connoisseur Media CEO Jeff Warshaw, who is observing a kind of homecoming with his company’s recent $23 million purchase of four stations on Long Island.

“My parents are broadcasters, my uncle is a broadcaster. It’s in my blood,” said Warshaw, who grew up in Roslyn and graduated from Roslyn High School in 1982. “Acquiring the Long Island stations is particularly exciting as I grew up listening to these stations and I’m thrilled that Connoisseur will now be operating them.”

Warshaw, 48, closed on the deal to buy the Farmingdale-based radio group from Newton, Mass.-based Barnstable Broadcasting earlier this month. He said it’s the biggest single acquisition his Westport-Conn.-based company has made to date. The stations include adult contemporary station WKJY-FM, oldies station WBZO-FM, standards station WHLI-FM and WIGX-FM, aimed at gen-Xers.

He said he has no plans to alter the programming formats of the stations, which he said are doing quite well.

“These are by and large very successful stations. We thought it economically made sense for us,” Warshaw said.

The acquisition brings the number of stations owned by privately-held Connoisseur to 24 stations, according to Warshaw, in diverse locations including Omaha, Neb.; Wichita, Kan.; Billings, Mont.; Erie,Pa., and Rapid City, S.D.

Warshaw bought his first radio station, located in Indiana, while he was an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business.

He was immersed in the radio business from a young age because of his family’s involvement in it, and he said that prompted his interest in it.

His parents and his uncle purchased WTHE-AM in Mineola in 1967. His parents, who live in Mineola, still own the radio station, which sells airtime to local and national religious ministries and institutions.

Warshaw said radio remains a vibrant media business and dismisses competition from online radio outlets, which he said lack an essential element that make local radio stations relevant to listeners.

“They’re entertainment, they’re friends. They’re companions,” he said. “The electronic radio stations are a yawn a minute. They have no connection to the community.”

He said there was a certain amount of risk involved in acquiring the Long Island stations.

“Anytime you pay $23 million for something, there’s a risk. We don’t think we overpaid. We have a lot of experience running radio stations,” he said.

Asked if he was planning any other station acquisitions in the New York metro area, Warshaw said to “stay tuned.”   

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