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Edwards forms group to buy radio, TV stations

Saturday, January 12, 2002

By Barbara Vancheri, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

A month after selling Channel 22 for nearly $17 million, Pittsburgh broadcaster Eddie Edwards has joined forces with the former mayor of Atlanta and announced plans to buy radio and TV stations "wherever the opportunities present themselves."

Edwards, who has formed Edwards Broadcasting Inc., said yesterday, "I have actually negotiated for a couple of deals that I'm not allowed to talk about right now. ... But we have a couple of [radio] properties under our belt that we will be able to announce in the next couple of weeks."

The 50-year-old Cleveland native who has been in the radio and TV business for 35 years, plans to parlay his financial nest egg, broadcasting knowledge and contacts, into a national empire. He is working with PNC Bank Corp. and says, "We plan to be a major force, to be aggressive in buying radio and television."

Former Atlanta mayor Bill Campbell has been named vice president of corporate communications and legal affairs for the company. Both men, now friends who met years ago at a fund-raiser in Pittsburgh, are hoping to convince Congress to grant tax benefits to minority owners in broadcasting.

Edwards plans to buy a building Downtown to house his growing staff and Eddie Productions, which produces a show called "Nitelife," now going national.

He has been planning the launch of Edwards Broadcasting for a couple of years (while waiting for the Federal Communications Commission to approve the sale of WCWB) and says, "I wanted Edwards to have the sharpest staff management team, a dynamic, young, professional group of broadcasters. I think we are going to make a lot of noise. A lot of noise."

Edwards, who is familiar to Pittsburgh viewers from his Sunday night "Eddie's Digest," plans to sell "Nitelife" at the National Association of Television Program Executives in Las Vegas this month. NATPE is a platform for producers to offer syndicated shows to stations.

NATPE is a stop on a road that started in Pittsburgh with the one-hour weekly show called "Nitelife" on WCWB. Now, its focus will shift to a national audience -- with spots for local stations to insert their own features -- with hosts Angie Corley, Charlie Eddy, Melissa Papa, Michel Wall and Jenna Morasca, with Falcon Hale doing a gossipy "Off the Record" report.

"Because we're gearing up for a national show, the production will triple in size. We will have to have two crews on the road at all times, with crews between four and six people, out taping across the country."

Although long a fixture in broadcasting (he worked on the air with Willard Scott and David Brinkley at NBC Radio in D.C. in the early 1970s), Edwards gained greater prominence in January 1991 when he announced he was buying Channel 22 for $7 million. The sale was triggered by news that Sinclair Broadcast Group was buying WPGH-TV for $55 million and was forced, by FCC rules, to put Channel 22 on the market.

In November 1999, Edwards said he was selling WCWB to Sinclair for $16.8 million. He also would collect $1.5 million for his share in Glencairn Ltd., a company connected to Sinclair.

That sale garnered criticism from Jesse Jackson's Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, but the FCC approved the deal in December.

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