PORT HAWKESBURY: Like a public utility, some things are expected to remain in place, and the presence of Bob and Brenda MacEachern as the driving force behind 101.5 The Hawk was one of those.
That might be why, on January 9, so many people were shocked when news broke of MacEachern Broadcasting selling the local radio station. Acadia Broadcasting will soon be the company owning 101.5 The Hawk’s share of local airwaves.
“Brenda and I started talking about two years ago about an exit strategy, where we are in our own lives, and where we want to be in the next five to 10 years,” outgoing station owner Bob MacEachern told The Reporter last Thursday. “We started talking to potential buyers about six months ago.”
The sale is pending approval from the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), but the papers have been signed by the MacEacherns and their counterparts at Acadia Broadcasting. It’s a pretty standing sale without much change to the operation, MacEachern said, so the CRTC process should go relatively smoothly.
“I like the way [Acadia] approaches radio,” he said. “They keep it local, they keep live broadcasters, and they do a lot of things corporate broadcasters don’t do. What they do matches up nicely with what we’ve done over the years.
“Of all the radio companies in Atlantic Canada, Acadia retains staff more than anyone else. We feel we’re handing it over to people with great integrity in the industry.”
MacEachern noted that once he and Brenda, who works in the accounting section at The Hawk, step away from the business, Acadia will be the one calling the shots. However, based on the discussions he’s had with Acadia, he doubts listeners will hear many changes.
In addition to managing and owning the station, MacEachern’s voice has been heard on airwaves since the late 1980s. It was in 1987 that he took on the manager role, when the company was owned by John and Ted VanZutphen’s Eastern Group of Companies. Ownership came to MacEachern Broadcasting in 1994.
The station was founded by former MLA, cabinet minister and lawyer, the late Gerry Doucet, in 1975.
“Radio’s been my life since I was a teenager, so I’m going to miss it immensely,” he said. “I’ll miss the people, both those I’ve worked with and those in the community. For everything there comes a time, and we felt this was it.
“We’ve leaving the station in a very strong financial and community position, and we’re leaving the station in the hands of staff who certainly know their business. Some have been here for over 25 years. I have no hesitation to walk out the door and leave it in their hands.”
Brenda also spoke to The Reporter, and she said she really appreciates the support the station received over the years. She’s been working there for 35 years, just five fewer than her husband.
“We’re looking forward to what the next chapter brings,” Bob said. “We can’t thank people enough for the support people have given us. They’ve been beside us every step of the way. We’ve had the support of the business community as well. They understand the importance of supporting local radio.
“Without them, we’d not have had the success we’ve enjoyed.”
The CRTC’s decision regarding the sale will most likely take a couple of months, so the MacEacherns will remain fixtures at The Hawk’s Church Street office for the near future.