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“99 Hits” radio stations sold to Denver company with ties to north country

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POTSDAM — Two Potsdam radio stations have been purchased by a Denver company with ties to the north country.

Martz Communications Inc. agreed on Friday to purchase WSNN and WPDM, collectively known as 99 Hits, from longtime owners St. Lawrence Radio Inc. It will take several months for the sale to be finalized as both companies await the approval of the Federal Communications Commission. The official change of ownership is expected to take place on May 1.

Both stations currently play identical programming, a mix of country music with news and sports programming. Once the new owners take over the stations will be split, with WSNN, 99.3 FM, playing mostly music while WPDM, 1470 AM, will focus on talk, news and sports. The specifics have yet to be worked out.

“We don’t know what those formats will be,” said Derry R. Loucks, the current assistant manager at 99 Hits.

Timothy D. Martz, owner of Martz Communication, said the purchase was a logical extension for his company.

“We thought it was a good investment. I’ve been in north country radio for 15 years,” he said.

Mr. Martz currently owns four Malone radio stations, along with two stations in Pittsburgh. He used to own stations in Canton, Massena, Ogdensburg, Norwood and Morristown before selling them to Stephens Media Group in 2008. Those stations included WMSA, Mix 96 and The Fox, 101.5, all based at a studio on Route 420, Massena,

The Potsdam stations will be upgraded with modern equipment and facilities, according to Mr. Martz. The exact future of the stations and their staff is still uncertain, although Mr. Martz said he plans to build on the current staff.

“We think they’ve done a great job up to now, and we plan to invest in equipment and facilities to bring it more in line with current standards,” he said.

Mr. Loucks said he knows very little about the new owners’ plans, having just had his first meeting with Martz Communications representatives Monday.

“We just met with them this morning, and there was a brief cursory explanation,” he said.

The exact format of the two stations, the nature of improvements to the facilities and the plans for the 11 currently-employed staff members are still up in the air.

“I think it’s going to be a great opportunity for some of our younger employees,” Mr. Loucks said.

Mr. Loucks has worked for the station for most of his career, and has no plans on leaving for as long as he’s wanted.

“If they want me, I’ll plan on staying,” he said.

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