The Tide Expands with Purchase of Two Radio Stations

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Bruce Hornsby, an investor in The Tide radio stations with Local Voice Media, records promotional spots for the new stations.
Bruce Hornsby, an investor in The Tide radio stations with Local Voice Media, records promotional spots for the new stations.

A music format known for innovation, going deeper than the top 40 hits and being first to bring new artists onto the airwaves, will debut on Virginia’s Southside and the lower part of the Virginia Peninsula when Local Voice Media takes control of WXTG 102.1 FM and 1490 AM and turns both into The Tide.

Local Voice Media, formerly known as Davis Media,  with Tom Davis its president and CEO, has owned and operated the Williamsburg-based 92.3FM The Tide on the Virginia Peninsula since 2005. The investor group includes Grammy Award-winning musician Bruce Hornsby, a Williamsburg native, and Blue Heron Capital of Richmond.

In the latest transaction, Local Voice Media has acquired two stations along with 7 acres of property in Hampton and a broadcast tower from Red Zebra Broadcasting. Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder is a principal investor in the Red Zebra group. The expansion of 92.3 The Tide will cover the listening market from northern North Carolina to just south of Richmond and all the way to the Eastern Shore.

Local Voice Media will request FCC approval of the sale on Wednesday, July 31 and file for transfer of control of the FCC licenses for both stations, a process that typically takes about 90 days.

The original plan was to broadcast music on both stations, but Davis saw an opportunity to provide both sports and a new musical format to the community. As such, 1490 AM will remain a sports station.

The FM station, 102.1, will “flip” to its new format within the next several days, with music the same that is currently heard on 92.3FM The Tide, a format known as “Triple A” or “adult album alternative.” Southside residents may recall “The Coast,” which was the area’s Triple A station for nearly 13 years.

The decision to bring back Triple A was easy, Local Voice President Tom Davis said.

“Tide listeners are sophisticated music lovers who understand that many of the most successful artists get their start with our format when the mainstream stations are too afraid to introduce something new,” Davis said, giving modern day artists like John Mayer, Dave Matthews Band, The Lumineers, Adele and Mumford & Sons as examples of musicians who got their start with Triple A support.

“Another great example is our own investor, Bruce Hornsby. Bruce’s wide range of music is represented best on stations like The Tide, unlike mainstream stations that neglect the depth of music artistry,” Davis said.

“It will be great to finally hear Lyle Lovett and the Avett Brothers in Norfolk and Virginia Beach,” added Hornsby, whose voice will be heard doing station identification and “liners” for The Tide on the Southside, as it is for the Williamsburg station.

Davis noted one of the few complaints Tide listeners have – that the Williamsburg signal fades south of Yorktown and is lost on the Southside – will be remedied with the expansion of the Tide brand.

The new stations will continue to carry live broadcasts of Washington Nationals baseball games through this season, and will carry Washington Redskins football games.

Because the company is locally owned, there’s a strong emphasis on “being local” with its listeners and advertisers. Making that “hometown connection” between the company’s consumers and clients keeps the focus on growing local businesses, which in turn helps to grow the local economy – where Local Voice and its clients live, work and like to play.

A homegrown example of that relationship-building is evident with the independent Chesapeake Bank, a longtime advertiser on the Williamsburg properties. With help from Mark Eggleston and Marshall Warner, Chesapeake Bank continues to support their commitment to the company as a partner in financing this expansion, Davis said.

Local Voice Media began in Williamsburg and now includes a classical station, 107.9 BACHfm, an online-only daily newspaper Williamsburg Yorktown Daily (known by the shorthand WYDaily.com) and the Save30 Store for discounted gift certificates to local businesses. Local Voice Media specializes in combining online newspapers powered by their hometown radio stations, which led to its expansion to Wilmington, N.C., with a five-station cluster and the online daily Port City Daily (PortCityDaily.com); and to Columbia, S.C., with two radio stations and the launch of the online Cola Daily (ColaDaily.com) in the next several weeks.

Davis said the AM station could be repurposed at some point to provide additional local services not currently found in this market.