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99 Hits becomes Hits of the ’80s on 99.3

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POTSDAM — Listeners tuning in to 99 Hits on Friday morning looking for Conway Twitty, George Straight and Garth Brooks instead found Prince, Michael Jackson and Bon Jovi, as the station kicked off a new era, becoming B-99.3.

Station Manager John Winter said that the change was a decision made by the new ownership, Martz Communications Inc., Denver, and that it’s one he’s excited about and is looking forward to being a part of.

“We’ve changed the format,” Mr. Winter said. “Now it’s Hits of the ’80s Music Channel on 99.3.”

One of the reasons for the change, he said, is the radio market.

“There were five country music stations in this area and it really fragmented the market,” Mr. Winter said. “We wanted to come in and do something different, something that no one else was doing.”

While there are radio stations in the area that play some music from the 1980s, there wasn’t one that plays all ’80s, all the time.

“There has been a big resurgence in the interests, culture and music of the ’80s, and we wanted to be a part of it,” Mr. Winter said. “It’s something that nobody is doing.”

The rejuvenated interest in the decade of Ronald Reagan, Mr. T. and Boy George is something that Mr. Winter said will be good not only for the station’s listeners, but its advertisers.

“We think this will be something the north country will really like,” he said. “We hope the listeners will like it, and we think this will be a benefit to the advertisers as well, because we’re doing something unique.”

Mr. Winter noted that 99 Hits’ sister station, WPDM-1470 AM, also changed its format and is now CBS Sports, a station that will broadcast local and national sports talk as well as live events.

“We’ll be doing a lot of local sports on 1470,” Mr. Winter said.

He said the station has seven employees and no one was laid off during the transition.

“Everyone’s coming with us,” Mr. Winter said, noting that the move from country to ’80s music isn’t the only one the station will be making.

“We are moving the studio to 5 Beal Street in downtown Potsdam,” he said.

That building at one time housed the Courier-Observer’s Potsdam office and previously served as a bus station.

Martz Communications Inc. agreed in January to purchase WSNN-99 Hits and WPDM from longtime owners St. Lawrence Radio Inc. The sale was finalized earlier this week.

Both stations had identical programming in the past, a mix of country music with news and sports programs.

Timothy D. Martz, owner of Martz Communication, said in January that 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,” Mr. Martz said.

Mr. Martz also owns four Malone radio stations, along with two stations in Pittsburgh. He owned four stations that broadcast out of the former WMSA studios in Massena before selling them to Stephens Media Group in 2008.

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