Station remains locally owned and operated in deal with Petricola Estate
NEW PHILADELPHIA, Ohio – Lauren International, headquartered in New Philadelphia, announced the addition of a familiar entity to its portfolio of companies with the acquisition of WJER Radio in Dover. Lauren International President and CEO, Kevin Gray, announced on Monday that Lauren signed the purchase agreement with station owner Zachary Petricola, and it will now go to the FCC for a standard approval process. Petricola became the owner of WJER Radio in 2020 following the death of his father, longtime station owner, Gary Petricola.
Zachary Petricola, who resides in Florida, said he is pleased that the station will remain locally operated.
“It’s fortunate that a local buyer was interested in keeping the station in the community where it has operated since 1950. I want to thank Tuscarawas County’s residents for their support of my father and the radio station that meant so much to him. I also want to thank the team at WJER and all of the affiliated business partners that have been critical to the station’s success through the years.”
Gary Petricola made radio history in 1977 by becoming the youngest station owner in the country at age 27 when he purchased the station from the estate of its founder, Agnes Reeves Greer. Petricola retained majority ownership of the station for 43 years, until his death in March of 2020.
Gray says that Lauren International is keenly focused on serving the community, and WJER’s decades of community involvement and its well-respected reputation align with that mission.
“WJER has been a staple in Tuscarawas County for more than 70 years,” said Gray. “At WJER’s core is a commitment to community values, and they’ve earned the trust and respect of Tuscarawas County through their coverage of local news, area schools, and their support of our county’s many non-profits. We believe that a locally-owned radio station is vitally important for this area and wanted to ensure it would remain that way.”
Gray says that the Lauren team looks forward to the community-focused partnership.
“Over the past 6-months I’ve met with station management and assured them that we are here to support them and provide them even more resources to serve this community in innovative and meaningful ways. We are already digging in with sweeping technology upgrades that will take WJER to the next level of broadcasting.”
WJER is poised to celebrate its 72nd anniversary in February and includes 11 staff members who have been with the station for a decade or longer, along with some newer faces and voices. Familiar WJER personality Kelly Kyle has been a cornerstone of the station since she joined in 1981. General Manager Amy Smith has been with WJER for 26 years and says she and the staff are ready for this new chapter.
“Our staff has tremendous passion for WJER and appreciation for our listeners and business partners, and we will continue to serve the community as we always have. It’s an honor that a company with deep local roots like Lauren International thinks enough of WJER to add us to their list of innovative companies. The founding vision of Dale Foland reminds me so much of Gary Petricola’s approach to operating WJER, so this is a great match for us when it comes to values. Lauren’s commitment to community, creativity, and employee empowerment is exciting. We can take what people already love about WJER and make it even better.”
With the addition of WJER, Lauren International’s portfolio of businesses increases to seven, as the station joins LMI Custom Mixing, Lauren Agrisystems, Flite Test, Retail Product Solutions, Valv-Trol LLC, and SmartWay Communications under the Lauren umbrella. Lauren International is headquartered at 1776 Tech Park Drive in New Philadelphia.
WJER Radio can be heard locally on the radio dial at 100.9 FM and AM 1450, as well as a live-stream online at wjer.com. Their studios are located at 646 Boulevard in Dover.