(CMR) James Bergstrom, the owner of Compass Media, has agreed to sell the business to Dart Media and Entertainment, subject to the necessary regulatory approval. CMR understands all assets, including the coveted George Town headquarters, will be included in the acquisition.
The shocking announcement made early Wednesday afternoon came as a surprise to some, but CMR sources revealed days ago that Compass Media would be changing hands yet again. CMR was aware that in recent months another Cayman business owner was in discussions with Bergstrom the acquire Compass Media.
Compass Media made a very brief statement that claims that Bergstrom has steered the company through the pandemic, radio station acquisition, and print business sales. The real question remains, how well did he do that as rumors swirled that the Compass was on the verge of collapse.
Bergstrom initially purchased the Compass back in February 2019, but it has long been rumored that Dart owned the Compass since Brian Uzzell sold it to David Leggee. That rumor has been denied by all parties but continued to persist over the years.
The rumor grew some additional legs when Randy Merren of Hurley’s Media obtained financing from Dart Financing for his acquisition of Cayman 27, which moved into Camana Bay as part of the deal. Cayman 27 finally closed its doors four years after Merren’s acquisition on August 30, 2019, with Merren admitting it was not viable to continue.
Despite Compass Media laying off staff and claiming to have financial issues of its own, it acquired Hurley’s Media in November 2020. This expanded the footprint from print media to four radio stations as well. Despite that expansion, it was obvious that Compass Media was in trouble with the cancellation of its top talk show and further staff layoffs.
Compass Media has been facing several challenges over the last few years, laying off staff and others resigning. Earlier this year, the company announced that it would close its print shop permanently on 30 April. It has continued to struggle to find its place in an ever-changing media market after having dominated the industry for the better part of 50 years.
They also experienced management changes, including the loss of publisher Kathleen Capetta. At the time, the Compass claimed that they would be recruiting a Caymanian into the position. However, that never materialized. The editorial board also fell apart a bit and long-time contributors like Vickie Wheaton were said to have been moved into more of a part-time post.
Kevin Morales was made redundant in November 2021 before landing a position with the Dart organization, editing their Camana Bay Time publication.
Dart said it will build on the foundation laid by Compass Media for more than 50 years. CMR understands that they intend to have the entity continue under its current management model with little interference.
“We are committed to building on the solid foundation that has been laid since the Compass was founded more than a half-century ago. We are steadfast in our determination to ensure the integrity of this important institution is protected. We will avail ourselves of relationships with industry leaders in local and international media, supporting the Compass as it continues to play its important role for decades to come,” Dart Chief Executive Officer, Mark VanDevelde, said.