Bearing Drift merger with Virginia Line Media means wider conservative platform

CHESAPEAKE, Va. – Bearing Drift, a Virginia-based provider of conservative content and opinion, announced its merger with radio content producer Virginia Line Media on Friday.

Jim Hoeft of Chesapeake, who founded Bearing Drift seven years ago, is the new president of Virginia Line Media. Norman Leahy, founder of Virginia Line, has been among Bearing Drift’s stable of contributors. Hoeft, writing under the byline J.R. Hoeft, has a background in commonwealth politics and also contributes opinion columns to The Daily Press.

Bearing Drift began as a political blog in 2004, and has expanded into social media and a subscription-only print magazine.

Virginia Line is best know for its The Score political talk radio show and online podcasts. The Score airs locally on WMBG-AM 740 in Williamsburg. It can also be heard on Richmond’s WLEE-AM 990 and Lynchburg’s WLNI-FM 105.9, as well as online.

Hoeft answered a few questions via email about what the merger might mean for both brands, as well as conservative news and public affairs content.

Q: I realize that there has been some cross-pollination between Bearing Drift and Virginia Line Media, with Norman Leahy contributing to your site and so forth. What was it that made you want to pursue the merger?

I have known Norm Leahy for years and have a great deal of respect for him and his writing and business ability. We and our partners felt that now was a good time to collaborate on a larger project that brings the best of what Virginia Line and Bearing Drift have to offer now under one platform.  Ultimately, this is a win for the Virginia conservative who is looking for a credible source of information with a variety of multimedia offerings.

Q: What are your initial goals for the merger? Will Bearing Drift readers see any immediate or eventual difference in content?

There will be no change in our content. We will continue to work to provide credible and timely commentary and information to the Virginia conservative – on demand.  However, for both Score listeners and Bearing Drift readers, they will now have the need to only visit one location.

Q: Do you see the new structure as simply a means of offering a wider platform for conservative opinion and content, or will there be other efforts to branch out?

We’re always looking for ways to enhance delivery of our content for the reader or listener. By offering a wide range of options – print, online, radio, social networks, etc. – we truly are living up to our personal goal of providing our content ‘on demand.’

Q: The company, as I understand it, is now merged into Virginia Line Media. Will the brands, so to speak, continue under their names? For example, will Bearing Drift content continue to be released under that banner or do you see a consolidation of resources, such as The Score podcasts, to one site or the other? Or any similar changes?

Virginia Line Media LLC is the name of our company. The brands we currently have for the various mediums we use will stay the same for right now; however, there’s no doubt that ‘Bearing Drift’ is the main brand and will be incorporated in some way into every product we provide.

Q: How is Bearing Drift Magazine doing?

We look forward to releasing to our subscribers our third issue of the year just before Election Day, with an article by Virginia state Sen. Mark Obenshain, an interview with Gov. Bob McDonnell and (University of Virginia Center for Politics director) Dr. Larry Sabato on the role of Virginia in 2012, analysis by Dr. Quentin Kidd on the senate election, and much more.

Q: Why did Bearing Drift want to get into the print business when your content has really built a following online?

Print, in many respects, was the original ‘on demand’ medium. You can read it anywhere at virtually anytime. We feel there is still a demand for a good, conservative print publication for our readers who prefer that medium. We also feel our advertisers get a bargain in reaching a key and influential audience virtually every time that reader picks up the magazine.

Q: Do you see an expansion of print or broadcast products?

We are continuing to grow and actively seeking opportunities for growth. Our door is always open to proposals. After all, it never hurts to talk.

Q: In Hampton Roads, we’ve seen the loss of public affairs programming, such as Joel Rubin’s show, On The Record. Do you see a time where you might produce a conservative talk television program? Online seems like a natural fit, of course, but I wonder if you see room for that on commercial TV.

It seems commercial and public TV have turned their backs to public affairs programming, but it’s mainly because the public has tuned them out. However, my feeling is that these shows have been unsuccessful because of a fake attempt at balance or an outright liberal tilt to the programming, not to mention that they have been fairly boring.

I believe a well-produced, thoughtful, and entertaining conservative program would do very well on local TV – should the left-leaning owners and producers in that field merely give it a shot. However, I don’t see that happening in the near future. Therefore, we’ll endeavor to produce our own and share it online when that time is right.

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