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WGBH Will Buy WCRB From Nassau

Will finance the purchase with a campaign called ‘Keep Classical Alive’

Call this a case of classic consolidation … or “classical” consolidation.

Describing it a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, Boston public broadcaster WGBH said it will acquire commercial classical outlet WCRB(FM) from Nassau Broadcasting Partners of New Jersey. Terms were not disclosed for what is without doubt a prime piece of major-market FM real estate.

“WCRB is a 27,000-watt station, deeply rooted in the Boston region, serving audiences for more than 60 years with a broad reach in New England, drawing some 340,000 loyal listeners each week,” WGBH said.

“With WCRB added to WGBH’s radio services — 89.7 FM in Boston, and WCAI and WNCK on the Cape and Islands — WGBH will serve listeners from Cape Cod to New Hampshire, adding renewed vigor to the cultural economy of the region.” WCRB airs on 99.5 MHz.

WCRB is licensed as a commercial station but WGBH said it plans to operate it as a non-commercial service. “Over the coming months WGBH will fine-tune the formats of both WGBH 89.7 and WCRB 99.5 to create lineups that are complementary.”

It plans to finance the purchase with a special capital campaign titled “Keep Classical Alive.” Its Web site today promotes that with a pop-up: “WGBH is making classical music commercial-free on 99.5”

WGBH has been a Boston classical music proponent since the 1950s; more recently it has also explored live streaming, a classical HD Radio channel, podcasts and mobile applications, the organization noted. “The acquisition of WCRB will greatly enhance these efforts to serve new audiences on a broad array of distribution platforms in New England and beyond,” it stated.