Pat Sajak sells Annapolis radio station to investors, including a WTOP employee

“Wheel of Fortune” host Pat Sajak is selling the Annapolis radio station he has owned for more than 20 years to a pair of Maryland investors, including WTOP production department employee Chris Roth, for $1,000.

WNAV, 1430 on the AM dial, gets its call letters from the United States Naval Academy as the flagship station for its men’s and women’s lacrosse and basketball teams and the school’s baseball team.

Roth, a radio veteran of 31 years, worked as a WTOP Traffic reporter from 2010 to 2012 and returned to work in the WTOP production department last fall. He and friend and fellow radio veteran Frank Brady will be the new owners. Their company is BMSC Media. The sale requires FCC approval, which usually takes 60 days. They hope to take over ownership early next year.

Buying the station itself for a mere $1,000 sounds like a bargain, but they will have to relocate. It is on land Sajak owns on Admiral Drive in Annapolis, which Sajak is selling. Sajak is offering to help Roth and Brady with the relocation, with up to $100,000 to help with the move and new lease.

Roth says the station will stay in the Annapolis area.

WNAV has been in the same building since it first went on the air in 1949.

The station currently has about two dozen full- and part-time employees, but there will be cuts.

“There is always going to be change. It is one of those things that we’re going to have to trim expenses. They’ve had an owner that was able to supply a lot of money. We will keep as much as we can,” Roth said.

Roth’s first full-time radio job was mid-day program director at WNAV in 1996. Brady also spent time on the air at WNAV.

WNAV’s format of oldies music, local news, traffic, talk shows and sports is eclectic.

“Its oldies music, but it’s also a lot of ‘B’ side songs. We’re going to hone in and become something listeners are more familiar with. We will definitely remain a local station, with local news and traffic. We will definitely keep our relationship with the Naval Academy. Without the Naval Academy, there is no NAV,” Roth said.

Will Roth return to the airwaves that gave him his first full-time radio job?

“Maybe. But I am staying at WTOP. I will own a radio station that will have a management team in place. I will write the checks,” Roth said.

Sajak, and his wife, Lesly Brown, own a home in Severna Park, and have been big Annapolis-area philanthropists.

“I am indebted to our advertisers and, of course, our loyal listeners. As I move toward retirement over the next couple of years, I’ll always look back at my ownership of WNAV with great pride and satisfaction” Sajak said in a statement.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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