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Vox Completes Purchase of Clear Channel Stations 

Local Matters: Short Stack

After nearly eight months of negotiations and regulatory review, Vox Communications Group has completed the purchase of seven Vermont radio stations from media conglomerate Clear Channel.

The $11 million deal, which closed July 25, includes four Burlington-area stations - Star WEZF-FM 92.9; Kiss WVTK-FM 92.1; Champ WCPV-FM 101.3; and WXZO-FM 96.7.

First announced in January, the purchase reunites Ken Barlow of South Burlington with WCPV, which he launched in the 1990s. Barlow's Dynacomm group sold the station, along with WXPS (now WXZO), to Capstar Radio in 1999.

"It's like coming full circle," said Barlow, who helped form Vox Communications, which has offices in South Burlington, in 2005. "I guess you can go home again." The company's corporate headquarters are in Wellesley, Massachusetts.

Barlow said there are no significant format changes in the works for any of the stations Vox has purchased, although listeners may have already noticed the new ownership's renewed focus on local affairs. Last week, for instance, the group's stations broadcast the Williston Little League All Stars' play in the New England Regional tournament.

"We got out there quick and just did it," Barlow said. "I don't think the guys ahead of us would have thought to do that."

Barlow also acknowledged that Vox will start looking at programming options to replace the popular "Corm and the Coach" show, which aired Monday through Friday, 5 to 9 a.m., on Champ 101.3 and 102.1 in Randolph. Co-host Tom Brennan, the former University of Vermont men's basketball coach, retired in July.

The Vox deal is part of Clear Channel's transformation from a publicly traded conglomerate to private ownership. In late 2006, Clear Channel announced that 448 radio stations in 88 smaller markets were for sale. Six months later, more than 160 stations were sold to a private-equity firm for $331 million. The company also sold 56 television stations.

At one point, it looked as if Clear Channel had agreed to sell several of its Vermont stations to Florida-based Good Radio.TV, but the deal was never completed.

Barlow said the stations' advertisers seem pleased that the Vermont stations are once again locally owned.

"I think people appreciate the fact that we're calling the shots right here," he said. "I think they realize we'll work a little harder for their business. One of the good things about being locally owned is that we can really build those relationships."

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