The oldest radio station in York is now owned by a baseball team.
York Professional Baseball finalized its purchase of 1350 AM WOYK from longtime owner Doug George on March 21, said new station manager Darrell Henry. The $500,000 sale includes the radio tower and transmitter.
Henry, who will continue to call games for the Revolution on WOYK, said the station will grow its identity to be the go-to for local sports.
"It's a beautiful niche," he said. "The fans here in York are so into their teams. From what I've seen traveling to away games (with the Revolution), it's a really unique thing."
Aside from broadcasting Revs games, the station also broadcasts York College basketball, as well as local high school sports. It's also an NBC affiliate, meaning sports-talk show host Dan Patrick airs in the morning.
Henry and Nate Tile, the Revs' vice president of business development, said the station will look to build on its history. It was the first station to broadcast in York in March 1932 and has been focused on local sports since 1987.
The team wants to grow the coverage, too. Already, the Hershey Bears have signed an agreement to have WOYK join the team's broadcast network, which includes stations in Harrisburg and Lebanon, starting in April. There are plans to broadcast more York College sports as well as to provide daily features on players from across the area.
And the station launched its first website — www.woyk1350.com — Monday. The station also plans to expand its social media presence as well as advertising in the community.
Tile said downtown billboards featuring the station's new logo — the skyline of York — and its new slogan — "First in York. First in Sports" — will be going up soon.
Two salespeople are devoted to selling advertising for the station. Henry and production assistant Daniel Kurish will handle the broadcasting. Production quality for advertisers will also improve.
"Our goal is to become the premier locally focused station in the country," Henry said. "There's no reason we can't do that."
Though the station first was at Beaver and West Market streets, it moved out of the city in 1987, Henry said. It had been renting a facility in Elizabethtown as its office. The facility was not part of the sale.
The new headquarters will be in Santander Stadium. A small booth has been set aside to do productions for rebroadcast, such as weekly interviews or other shows.
The soundboard equipment is portable and taken to the game being covered. All that's needed is a relay to get the signal to the transmitter and broadcast tower, which are in West York.
The 24-hour station covers York, Harrisburg and Lancaster at 5,000 watts from an omni-directional signal during daylight hours. At night, because of FCC regulations, the signal is reduced to a directional 1,000 watts that covers York, Henry said.
The same format will continue, with the same part-time broadcasters and board operators covering college and high school games. As coverage grows, Henry said, more on-air personalities could be hired.
Buying the station is smart for the Revolution, Tile said.
"There are only a couple ways for us to develop," he said. "One is to grow our core competency in the baseball team. The other is to branch out and leverage that core competency."
Dennis Wharton, executive vice president of the National Association of Broadcasters, a broadcast-industry group based in Washington, D.C., agreed the Revolution seem to have a good thing going.
Though he couldn't name any specific teams that are similar to the Revs that own a radio station, Wharton did note that Dan Snyder, owner of the Washington Redskins, owns several radio stations on which the team's games are simulcast.
"Having the identity of the local sports franchise on a broadcast station is a winning combination for any broadcaster in any market," he said. "If you are the go-to broadcaster for getting local games, it's a big revenue generator and a way to brand your station close to the community."