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November 15. 2012 10:45PM

Binnie Media buys former downtown school in Concord

The media group owned by Seacoast businessman Bill Binnie won the rights Thursday to purchase a vacated downtown Concord school building that it plans to use as its headquarters for its radio stations and television news operations, the company said.

Binnie Media bid $900,000 to purchase the Walker School in downtown Concord, said John Teague, the attorney for the Concord School District. The auction took place in the law offices of Upton and Hatfield and pitted Binnie against Concord Group Insurance, which has offices close to the Walker School and had eyed the property for expansion, Teague said.

In a statement issued Thursday afternoon, Binnie said his company was delighted to be the successful bidder.

"The process raised a lot of money for the schools of Concord and placed a great building back on the tax roll," Binnie said in the statement.

He said the building will be the new home of Binnie Media, including radio station WJYY 105.5, which he said is Concord's number one station. It will also be home to 99.1 "Frank-FM" WNNH, 93.3 "The Wolf" WNHW, and other stations.

The building will serve as the news headquarters for the Derry-based WBIN-TV.

Periklis Karoutas, a spokesman for WBIN-TV, said the news headquarters will move to Concord by 2014. He said the station's infrastructure, master controls, sales force and other non-news operations will remain in Derry.

Teague said the terms of the sale require the exchange to take place by March 1, but that can be extended until June 1. It is not contingent on permitting or other factors, he said.

The building closed last spring following a consolidation that resulted in three new elementary schools and the closing of several older schools, he said. The Walker School is a classic red brick building that opened in 1913. The exterior is in good shape, and the terms of the deal include a historical easement that requires the owner to retain its historical nature. Teague said the inside will need extensive remodeling.

Binnie Media counts more than 1 million weekly viewers and listeners. Its portfolio includes two broadcast television stations - WBIN in Derry and TV13 in Nashua - and 16 radio stations.

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Mark Hayward may be reached at mhayward@unionleader.com.



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