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Gate City radio personalities team up to buy WSMN

Union Leader Correspondent

March 27. 2017 9:20PM
From left, Bob Bartis, George Russell and Mike Iodice of WSMN 1590 of Nashua speak about the studio's new ownership. (Kimberly Houghton/Union Leader Correspondent)

NASHUA — Nashua’s local radio station has changed ownership, bringing with it plans to add more local programming and a refocus on the community.

Business partners George Russell and Bob Bartis have acquired WSMN 1590 from Thomas Monahan’s Absolute Broadcasting. The purchase closed on March 16, creating the newly formed Bartis-Russell Broadcasting.

“I have been doing local radio here for over a decade, and I understand the importance of local radio,” said Russell, a radio personality who has been broadcasting on the Nashua channel for 12 years.

When he learned that Monahan was interested in letting go of the station and wanted Russell to somehow continue its mission, Russell teamed up with Bartis, an attorney who hosts a NASCAR show and legal segment on WSMN.

“I know local radio works — it gets the whole community involved,” said Russell, adding he hopes the 60-year-old station will be successful for another six decades and beyond.

His main objective is to eliminate all of the station’s syndicated programming and replace it with local hosts — a goal he believes is attainable. The new business partners also hope to convert the radio to FM.

“The coverage is going to expand and you are going to get two different listening audiences, different demographics, different coverage,” said Bartis, 46, of Hollis.

Although they did not reveal the purchase price of the radio station, Russell said it was a six-figure number. Broadcasting is in his blood, he said, adding he feels a responsibility to the community to provide consistent talk radio that offers local news.

Growing up, Bartis said he would listen to WSMN on his grandparents’ transistor radio on the kitchen table.

“Once I got behind the microphone, I got bit,” said Bartis, adding there is an adrenaline rush that comes with talk radio.

It is the art of storytelling that is intriguing, according to Bartis, who said he jumped on the opportunity to help purchase WSMN 1590 and keep it operating in the Gate City.

For now, the radio station will stay at its headquarters at 149 Main St., but the new owners do have a great vision for the company that they hope one day includes a glass-front window space where their on-air work will be visible by pedestrians and passing motorists.

Russell, 54, of Hudson, said he is blessed that the studio currently overlooks downtown, but he would like it to be even more visible on Main Street.

“We are the only game in Nashua — not even the billionaire (Bill) Binnie has got Nashua,” he joked.

Good radio talent is hard to find, said Russell, who said he is eager to continue talks in the community and find lost hosts interested in sharing Nashua stories.

“There is no fake news — there is no clickbait. It is real,” said Mike Iodice, music engineer at the studio. “We tell it like it is.”

There are only two employees at the studio — Russell and Bartis. However, there are several other volunteers and interns who fulfill the team and help make its operations a success, according to Russell.

“This is a 24-hour gig. You have to love it,” he said.

Business Nashua

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