New York City, San Antonio, Atlanta and Montgomery, Ala. Those are some of the outlying locations from which media moguls decide what Richmonders see, hear and read.
While many small, independent voices remain, those media outlets that penetrate the metro market most deeply fall under ownership of corporate entities located outside of the area.
Montgomery, Ala.-based Raycom Media resolved the quandary created by its ownership of two network-television affiliates in the Richmond market — a breach of FCC rules — in early January.
It had owned WTVR CBS 6 (254-3600, wtvr.com, broadcasting on channel 6, Comcast channel 9 and Verizon channel 6), started in 1948 by an auto-parts dealer as the first TV station south of Washington, D.C., since 1997 and bought WWBT NBC 12 (230-1212, wwbt.com, broadcasting on channel 12 and available on Comcast and Verizon) in early 2008.
With WWBT's news programs consistently leading the ratings, Raycom sought to divest itself of WTVR. A deal to unload it for $85 million to Hunt Valley, Md.-based Sinclair Broadcast Group (sbgi.net) — which already owns FOX Richmond (358-1495, wrlh.com, broadcasting on channel 35 and on cable at channel 11) — was killed by the U.S. Department of Justice in August 2008.
But in January, Raycom found a way out. It simply traded WTVR to Fort Wright, Ky.-based Local TV LLC in exchange for a Fox affiliate in Birmingham, Ala.
Raycom also operates Southeastern Media Holdings Inc., owner of cable channel WUPV — or CW Richmond (230-7059, cwrichmond.tv, available on Comcast and Verizon channel 13).
Meanwhile, WRIC ABC 8 (330-8888, wric.com, broadcasting and available on Comcast and Verizon on channel 8, except in Chesterfield County, where it is channel 10 on Comcast), the area's ABC affiliate, has remained under the ownership of New York City-based Young Broadcasting since 1993. Young, which owns 14 stations, has seen its stock plummet from $1.43 per share to a low of 3 cents per share within the past year, and it has begun to offer up stations for sale in other markets.
Print and Online
The region's newspaper of record, the Richmond Times-Dispatch (644-4181, timesdis patch.com), underwent major changes in content and design over the past year in response to national trends of declining ad revenues and competition from online news sources. The T-D's circulation overall is down about
13 percent to about 173,000 copies since 2001, according to its own published figures.
"Everything in newspapers is up in the air," Executive Editor Glenn Proctor told Richmond magazine in summer 2008. "Most newspaper editors will tell you there is no model now."
The paper's parent, Richmond-based Media General (mediageneral.com), which owns 41 newspapers and 19 TV stations throughout the South, recently purchased Richmond.com, the major competition to its own InRich.com community portal, from TWG Portals of Richmond.
The two portals already have begun partnering in delivery of video content such as joint movie reviews, but it remains unclear how Media General intends to leverage the two brands moving forward.
Media General also publishes the free entertainment weekly Brick (649-6897, brickweekly.com) in the Richmond area.
Norfolk-based Landmark Communications, owner of the free alternative tabloid Style Weekly (358-0825, styleweekly.com), announced in 2008 that it was exploring the sale of all its assets. It did sell the Weather Channel for $3.5 billion but announced in October 2008 that it was having difficulty finding buyers for other assets because of the credit crunch.
Independent print-news sources include the Richmond Free Press (644-0496, rich mondfreepress.com), the Richmond Voice (644-9060, voicenewspaper.com), Richmond Defenders (644-5834, defendersfje.org) and RVA Magazine (349-5890, rvamag.com), as well as a number of regional and local newspapers in the suburbs. Target Communications puts out this publication, the monthly Richmond magazine (355-0111, richmondmagazine.com), as well as the bimonthly R•Home & Garden and the semi-annual Richmond Bride.
Richmond's radio realm is dominated by six media companies that together own 25 of the region's 45 AM and FM stations.
Clear Channel Communications of San Antonio, Texas, owns six stations, including one of Virginia's oldest outlets and the most prominent news and talk source, Newsradio 1140 AM WRVA (wrva.com). Sister stations include WRNL Sports Radio 910 AM (sportsradio910.com), WRVQ Q94 FM (wrvq94.com), WTVR FM Lite98 (lite98.com), WRXL 102.1 FM (wrxl.com) and WBTJ 106.5 FM The Beat (wbtj.com).
Clear Channel's major competition comes from Atlanta-based Cox Radio — which owns WKHK K95 FM (k95country.com), WKLR 96.5 (965klr.com), WDYL Y101 FM (y101.com) and WMXB Mix-103.7 FM (mix1037.com) — and Lanham, Md.-based Radio One (radio-one.com) — which owns WTPS 1240 AM, WCDX iPower 92.1 FM (power921jamz.com), WKJS 99.3 FM/WKJM 105.7 FM and WPZZ 104.7 FM.
Richmond Indie Radio offers a truly independent broadcast voice, serving up locally produced news, talk and music programming at its nonprofit station WRIR 97.3 LPFM (622-9747, wrir.org).