Courtenay-based Vista Radio acquires 21 radio stations from Bell Media following layoffs

Courtenay-based Vista Radio acquires 21 radio stations from Bell Media following layoffs

Earlier this week, Bell Media announced a shake up of its media holdings. The corporate behemoth will unload dozens of radio stations, in addition to cutbacks at its television holdings.

But as it turns, a company offering to buy 21 of those radio stations, Vista Radio, is based right here on Vancouver Island.

Nicholas Arnold is an on-air personality at Duncan’s Sun FM radio station.

“In your Cowichan Valley weather, we’re expecting many cloudy skies this weekend,” he told listeners on Friday.

He does it all, news, weather, and plays the music.

The Duncan radio station is one of 49 currently owned by Courtenay-based Vista Radio.

Now it’s adding 21 more, according to Bryan Edwards, president of Vista Radio.

“These radio stations that we purchased, or are in the process of purchasing, I actually ran 25 years ago. I’m very familiar with them,” he told CHEK News on Friday.

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The SUN FM office in Duncan is pictured on Feb. 9, 2024.

Earlier this week, Bell Media announced a series of cuts to its media holdings, including the sale of 43 of its radio stations.

On Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reacted to the news.

“I’m furious. This is a garbage decision by a corporation that should know better,” he said. “We’ve seen over the past years, journalistic outlets, radio stations, small community newspapers bought up by corporate entities who then layoff journalists, change the offering, the quality of offering to people.”

On Thursday, B.C. Premier David Eby also took a swing at Bell Media.

“Bell and corporations like Bell have overseen the assembly of local media assets that are treasures to local communities. They bought them up like corporate vampires. They sucked the life out of them, laying off journalists. They have overseen the crapification of local news by laying off journalists. And now they say it’s no longer economically viable to run these local radio stations.”

Edwards says Vista Radio is offering to retain all former Bell Media employees at the 21 stations it’s buying.

And says it may even look at increasing staffing.

“Yes, absolutely, over time,” Edwards said. “Year one is going to be our toughest year, because nothing turns on a dime. But I would think, and we’re thinking by the second year, we’ll start adding more talent to those radio stations.”


Mary GriffinMary Griffin

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