Media sources say Lafayette businessmen and real estate investors Dr. Paul Azar Jr. and Charles Chatelain, both long associated with media executive Tom Galloway (see p. 20), will take over the station from Paul Eason. Marketing exec Eason's three-year contract for the cablecast comes to an end in January. Both Eason and Russ Myerson, executive vice president and general manager of The WB's 100-plus station group, declined comment on Azar and Chatelain's involvement.
"There's a confidentiality agreement in place," Myerson says.
Neither Azar, a local ophthalmologist, nor Chatelain returned calls seeking comment.
On March 16, The Independent Weekly reported that the Federal Communications Commission had granted Azar approval for construction of a new tower in north Lafayette for TV station KACB Channel 50. Later that month, Lafayette Consolidated Government issued Chatelain a permit to construct a tower at 2332 N. Wilderness Trail, and in mid-May issued another permit for the tower's shelter. Additionally, Chatelain and Eddie Blanchard are managing members of Carencro-based Wilderness Communications, which owns Alexandria-based KBCA, a WB affiliate that became a full broadcast property this summer. Both Wilderness and Chatelain's Delta Media list their address with the Louisiana Secretary of State as 3501 NW Evangeline Thruway in Carencro.
In all likelihood, the new group will have the local KLWB call letters assigned to them.
Launched in 1995, The WB offers programming that targets teens and young adults and is home to popular shows like 7th Heaven (scheduled to be axed next fall in a cost-cutting decision despite its success as TV's longest-running family drama), Gilmore Girls and Smallville, as well as this fall's newcomers Supernatural, Related and Twins, which stars Melanie Griffith.
Myerson says bringing The WB station over the air will make it available to all 220,000 television households in the eight-parish designated market area. "More people in the market will have access to the programming," he says. As a cablecast KLWB is now offered to 68 percent of households in the Lafayette area.
Since being taken over by Eason three years ago (from the Galloway group, which did not have a sales effort promoting it), the station has done very well, Myerson says, earning a 2004 station of the year honor in its region of the 100-plus station group (small to medium markets). Myerson says The WB is negotiating with Eason to continue the professional relationship in another market.
"Taking [KLWB] over the air is the best way for it to grow in this area," says Eason, who acts as a sales agent or "affiliate partner" for The WB rather than an owner. "I'm not going to spend millions of dollars building a tower. I don't know if I want anything with that overhead. My contract was to get this cablecast going, and we obviously made it to where someone wanted to buy it; this could be a good deal for them if they do it right."
Kohl's is Coming
Kohl's department store is slated to locate near the new Academy Sports that will be constructed at Settlers Trace Boulevard and Ambassador Caffery Parkway, across from Target.
A Kohl's spokeswoman, Jackie Long, declined to release any information, but in late October the store submitted architectural drawings to LCG for a 94,800-square-foot store. "I'm still waiting on the civil drawings," says John Broyles, permit supervisor for LCG's codes division. The Wisconsin-based department store chain sells apparel, shoes and accessories for men, women and children and also offers home products like small electronics, bedding and luggage. Its name brands include Carter's, Dockers, Levi's, Reebok and KitchenAid.
A publicly traded company, Kohl's has more than 650 stores nationwide and offers online shopping at www.kohls.com. Long says the company has no Louisiana stores.
As first announced in The Independent Weekly late last year, Academy, the largest sporting goods retailer in this market, is constructing a much bigger facility to replace its 11-year-old Johnston Street store. Broyles says the 120,000-square-foot store is clearing its last hurdle with zoning and will receive a building permit soon after.
Charlotte Russe opens, Build-A-Bear coming?
The Mall of Acadiana is now home to Charlotte Russe, a retailer that targets shoppers in their teens and twenties. The store opened Nov. 11 in the Sears wing and offers trendy casual clothing, footwear and accessories for young women.
The mall could also be getting a new store aimed at the tot market. Build-A-Bear Workshop, a teddy-bear themed store with bear-making stations, hopes to open next spring, according to Katy Lachky, a spokeswoman for the St. Louis-based company. Customers choose their furry friend, stuff it and add personality with hundreds of outfits and accessories. Each selection is then followed by a heart ceremony, which allow customers to choose a red satin heart, make a special wish and place it inside the stuffed animal.