Albany paper looks to broadcast

Wayne Harrington. Picture: Laurie Benson/The Albany Advertiser.

Albany-based newspaper the Great Southern Weekender has bought two radio stations as the independent publisher moves to diversify its media holding.

The Weekender’s parent company, Beaconwood Holdings, acquired narrowcast stations Gold MX and Fly FM this month from veteran Albany broadcasters Warren and Kira Mead.

The transaction, for an undisclosed amount, is a rarity for a relatively small publisher but it is not the first time the south coast city has had a local paper and radio station under the same ownership — Robert Holmes a Court’s Bell Brothers gained control of both the Albany Advertiser and 6VA in 1973.

Weekender managing editor Wayne Harrington told M&M this week it made sense to capitalise on the “synergies” between radio and print.

“As much as we believe regional papers are as strong as ever, it would be dangerous to ignore the impact of the internet on reading and buying habits, ” Mr Harrington said.

“The addition of radio to the company is a good marriage because both mediums can help each other grow.

“We have been growing the commercial printing side of the business steadily over the past 10 or 11 years (but) we have also been looking for an add-on like radio for a long time, so we are thankful the opportunity arose.”

Mr Harrington said the news- paper’s advertising sales team would be able to sell radio spots “as an add-on as part of their normal duties”.

“We see it as an efficient way to get our many newspaper clients into radio for the first time, ” he said.

“There is some scope through the newspaper’s resources to pump up the content side of Gold MX.

“At present, the station is run on automation from midday, so I certainly see some scope in introducing live content during that drive period in the afternoon.”

The narrowcast licences take in the nearby regional centres of Mt Barker and Denmark.

Gold MX targets the 35 to 65-year-old bracket and Fly FM plays current hit music to service the 14 to 25-year-old demographic. Mr Harrington said those formats would not change.

The Meads, who started Gold MX in 1999, will stay with the company until the New Year.

“I think both brands have the ability to help each other, ” Mr Mead said.

“More importantly, we look forward to adding value for readers, listeners and advertisers on both mediums.”

Beaconwood’s chief competitors in the Albany market are The West Australian’s masthead the Albany Advertiser, which publishes three times a week, and Southern Cross Austereo’s 6VA RadioWest and Hot FM.

Mr Mead is a former 6VA announcer.