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Will Sarasota’s SNN 6 be back on the airwaves?

Will Sarasota’s SNN 6 be back on the airwaves soon? Would be a sweet Valentine’s Day present if it is.

I just got off the phone with Linda DesMarais, erstwhile General Manager for the station and while she wouldn’t confirm the stories I’ve been hearing last night and this morning (that the station is looking good for a comeback very soon), she did give me a generous amount of time in talking about the station and its future.

MC: People have been talking all over town about how much they’ll miss SNN 6 if it stays off the air. I’ve been getting plenty of emails and calls about it. How does it make you feel to know that your station and staff are so well-liked and seen as such a valuable resource?

LD: We’ve been getting the same kind of response at the Herald-Tribune and the SNN lines that are somewhat still operable. I can’t go anywhere in public where I’m not stopped by people with that same kind of support.

MC: I’ve been hearing that you’ve lined up two new investors just in the past few days. Can you confirm that?

LD: I will confirm that we have, in the past week, we’ve gotten two more. We still need a few more, though, so that we can get enough financial backing to actually trigger [the sale]. We are extremely hopeful that this will happen relatively quickly and that means in the next week or two. I should mention, by the way, that the Herald-Tribune has been incredibly supportive — they want us back on the air.

MC: If you get the station back up and running, will you continue to share content and report on stories with and from the Sarasota Herald-Trib?

LD: As we go forward, while we wouldn’t be owned by the Herald-Tribune, we will still be very strong partners where we share news content.

MC: Can you speak to the profitability of SNN 6? A lot of people wonder whether it’s a true money-maker?

LD: When SNN was owned by the Herald-Tribune it was run by people who were experienced in newspapers but not necessarily in television. It is true that this has not been a huge profit maker in the past. And nor was it meant to be, they [the Sarasota H-T] really designed it to extend their brand.

This [sale] is really a win-win-win and we strongly believe that SNN is one of the most viable businesses locally.

Our business plan going forward will show a terrific profitability and it’s because the station will be structured and managed very differently and because we will take advantage of some new or additional revenue opportunities that hereto the newspaper company never really went after.

[DesMarais explained to me that she and her husband ran ABC 7 when it was Channel 40 and that they both have long histories in television programming senior management in metropolitan areas across the country, including Detroit and Washington, D.C.]

We bring all that to bear here but we also have the advantage of being intimate with the Sarasota community.

[DesMarais told me that she came on board with the H-T in 2005 and that between 05 and today, the station has not only moved into brand new studios at the new H-T building on Main Street, but that they added new equipment, grew the staff, and have significantly upgraded content.]

LD: I’d like to think that we’ve made great strides in making breaking news in our newscasts.

In November 2007, we convinced the corporate folks to allow us to procure Nielsen Ratings.

[Since then], we’ve been able to track ourselves, and an interesting thing has happened. Our ratings have been spectacular … it’s a competitive world out here and we have been routinely beating the ABC station in town — in the 6:00 am Monday through Friday [slots] and in the category of adults 25-54 which is the cherished [spots] that advertisers like the most.

We pretty much beat everyone on Saturday and Sunday daytime and we recently did some research that brought out the fact that on Comcast, where they have over 100 channels including broadcast and network cable, — we are either in first, second or third place with the most viewers … Monday through Sunday from 6 am to 7 pm.

I see this as phenomenal growth.

MC: Is it true that you might have a done deal on the acquisition of this station sometime soon?

[While DesMarais wouldn’t comment specifically on a time frame, she did indicate that she and her husband are moving heaven and earth to bring SNN 6 back to life in a way that will feel “seamless for viewers.” She did say, “We are pretty determined. My husband and I are so passionate about this.”]

MC: If you are successful in bringing SNN 6 back on air, will you bring back all the old staff?

LD: At this point, it would look like we would hire all or most of the employees that have been with us. I have never worked with a better staff. These people are dedicated and they know the community and they are really hard workers.

I also offered DesMarais a chance to clear up any of the “misinformation” her husband had alluded to and she said — unfortunately, that she hadn’t read my blog (drats!) but that she’d give it a look and let me know if she found anything amiss in my reporting.

So, there you have it. That’s all the news that’s fit to print at this hour. I’m personally hoping DesMarais and Barker pull the rabbit out of the hat on this one and get SNN 6 back on the airwaves where it belongs. I miss Asbury, Adrienne Stein, Justin Mosely — the inimitable weatherman, and the whole crew.

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Posted on February 7th, 2009Comments RSS Feed
One Response to Will Sarasota’s SNN 6 be back on the airwaves?
  1. […] MC Coolidge writes that there’s no news on a rebirth of SNN yet… but she’s talking to the hopeful owner today and will get back to us. […]

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