Down East 2013 ©
Frank, Wolf and Bach for sale: According to the North East Radio Watch  Web site, citing a June 30 report from Inside Radio , Nassau Broadcasting will be selling off all ten of its Maine radio stations  over the next year and a half.
Nassau owns eight FMs and two AMs in the state, including classic hits WFNK (107.5 FM), known as Frank FM, country WTHT (99.3 FM), known as the Wolf, and the three-station classical group called WBACH.
NERW reports that Nassau has been acquired by Lou Mercatanti, its CEO. Mercatanti took control of the company from Goldman Sachs and other lenders, who seized it a couple of years ago when Nassau ran into financial difficulties due to rapid expansion and the tight credit market. Mercatanti is reported to have paid just $54 million for an operation that includes over three dozen stations in New England and the mid-Atlantic states. That price doesn’t begin to cover the $258 million of Nassau’s debt that Goldman Sachs is stuck with.
Mercatanti’s strategy is to return Nassau to its Pennsylvania-and-vicinity roots (and to profitability) by selling off all the stations it owns in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont.
Smaller Soup: Village Net Media is shutting down its Rockland printing plant  and laying off seventeen employees. The company, operating as Village Soup, publishes four newspapers (the twice-weekly Herald Gazette in Camden and Rockland, as well as weeklies the Republican Journal in Belfast, the Capital Weekly in Augusta and the Bar Harbor Times). CEO Richard Anderson told Mainebiz the decision was prompted by the need for expensive repairs to its printing presses.
The papers will now be printed in Lewiston by the Sun Journal Media Group.
(Disclosure: My weekly political column runs in the Village Soup papers.)
Free … sorta: MaineToday Media vice president of advertising Michelle Lester has sent a letter to government agencies that place legal notices in the Portland Press Herald and Maine Sunday Telegram informing them that starting in July those paid ads will also be included at no additional charge in the papers’ “shopper.”
I’m guessing this “shopper” is actually the collection of flyers that are inserted in the papers during the week and are then packaged up and distributed to non-subscribers around Greater Portland in an effort to claim more market penetration. If so, the value of this service to legal advertisers is probably going to be pretty close to what they paid for it.
Political gimmick: The Portland Maine Gazette  (pdf warning) is a campaign brochure masquerading as a newspaper. The free publication is being put out by Charles Bragdon, one of the sixteen people running for mayor of Portland.
In the initial issue, Bragdon claims he’ll present a “fair, balanced and unbiased review of all the candidates including myself.” But in addition to printing answers to a questionnaire he sent to his opponents, he gives his own candidacy a little extra coverage by running four articles by himself, most of them expressing political opinions.
The Gazette bills itself as “Portland’s Politically Incorrect Weekly Newspaper.” The most incorrect thing I could find about the first issue was that it printed press releases from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and the Portland Pirates as if they were news stories.
Al Diamon can be emailed at email@example.com .