Sunbeam owner Ed Ansin dies; sons to take over broadcast company

Local television pioneer Ed Ansin died at his Miami-area home over the weekend, according to a statement from his family.

He was 84.

Until the very end, Ansin was involved with the day-to-day operations of Sunbeam Television, the company founded by his father in 1962. Sunbeam owns three television stations: Fox affiliate WSVN (Channel 7) in Miami and Boston stations WHDH-TV (Channel 7) and WLVI (Channel 56).

“Most people think I’m crazy not to retire,” Ansin told the Boston Globe last year. “I’m obsessed with television. I just like it.”

Paul Magnes, an executive with Sunbeam Television, said Ansin was at work until last week when he complained that he wasn’t feeling well. The exact cause of death was not released by his family or Sunbeam Television. It’s unclear if Ansin was ill.

Sunbeam was founded in 1962 after Ansin’s father, Sydney Ansin, purchased real estate in Miami and relocated the family there. Sunbeam purchased WSVN, then WCKT, from the companies that would later become Cox Media Group and Knight Ridder. The call letters changed in 1983.

In 1993, Ansin set his sights on a television station in his hometown of Boston. There, he purchased WHDH, then a CBS affiliate. Two years later, he inked a deal with NBC to switch WHDH’s affiliation to the Peacock network — a deal that lasted until NBC’s bitter breakup with Sunbeam in 2017.

In both Boston and Miami, Ansin competed against rival stations by investing time, money and attention in local newscasts. He invoked a flashy, action-oriented news strategy — the kind of “if it bleeds, it leads” journalism that was new and unrivaled when Ansin established the standard for his stations, and the kind of journalism that is common among local news outlets today.

When WHDH lost its NBC affiliation in 2017, Ansin ramped up the station’s output of local news as an independent affiliate, putting it head-to-head against other action news-oriented stations in the market. He said another affiliation deal would eventually come from it if the station could prove it was successful without one.

“My attitude has always been you have a first-class news operation, chances are somebody is going to want to affiliate with you — whether it’s Fox, Apple or Amazon someday,” he said in an interview.

Ansin’s sons, Andrew and James, will inherit control of Sunbeam Television in the coming weeks.