WBBQ, other stations to move to new locations

Radio station WBBQ is leaving North Augusta, and television station WJBF is moving out of Television Park. Those moves are just two of several planned by local radio and TV stations in 2011.

Clear Channel Radio plans to consolidate its six Augusta-area stations under one roof at 2743 Perimeter Parkway, the current business office, by early summer, said Kevin Harbison, the operations manager for Clear Channel Augusta.

On Wednesday, contractors began demolition work at the facility, he said.

"We're really looking forward to this. It's been a long time coming," Harbison said.

The six stations are WBBQ-FM (104.3), WEKL-FM (105.7), WZNY-FM (102.3), WKSP-FM (96.3), WPRW-FM (107.7) and WYNF-AM (1340).

"WBBQ has been at the Georgia Avenue building in that location since the early 1960s," Harbison said. "It's a big deal that we're finally getting under one roof and putting all six radio stations together. In today's era, it makes things more efficient."

Clear Channel's programming and production staffers have been working out of two North Augusta buildings, at 1305 Georgia Ave. and 445 Carolina Springs. Clear Channel owns the building on Georgia Avenue but doesn't have formal plans for the future of the property, he said.

The Perimeter Parkway building is a leased facility that has other tenants. Clear Channel is converting some of the building's vacant office space into studios, production rooms and office space for its disc jockeys. The sales side of the facility will also receive some modifications.

The project has been delayed for years because consolidating can be expensive. They came close to consolidating years ago, but Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast and the company had to put its resources into that region, Harbison said.

"Now we'll be able to have the programming staff and DJs right next to our sales team. Having three buildings hasn't exactly been very easy on everybody. We're all looking forward to being one big happy family," he said.

TWO TELEVISION STATIONS plan to have a new address by spring. WJBF (Channel 6, ABC) and WAGT (Channel 26, NBC) are moving to Augusta West Shopping Center at 1336 Augusta West Parkway, into the former Barnes & Noble building, said Bill Stewart, the vice president and general manager for WJBF. He expects the stations to move into the new facility by April at the earliest.

Currently, WAGT is at 905 Broad St. WJBF has been working from 1001 Reynolds St. for more than 50 years, he said.

In October 2009, WJBF and WAGT announced that their parent companies had signed a letter of intent indicating that WJBF would provide sales, news and other operational services for WAGT.

Richmond, Va.-based Media General owns affiliate WJBF. Mishawaka, Ind.-based Schurz Communications Inc. owns WAGT, but WAGTs employees work for Media General, he said.

Media General began renovating the Augusta West Parkway building several months ago. The 28,000-square-foot, leased space is getting exterior and interior renovations.

They considered renovating WJBF's building on Reynolds Street, but there wasn't enough room on the property, Stewart said.

"It's going to be different, but it will be a very nice facility when it's done with a lot of upgrades," he said. "I think, for the most part, it will be very convenient for a lot of people to get to."