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SNN LOCAL News 6 — it’s back, baby — beginning on Thursday, February 26 at 5 p.m.!!

Just got off the phone with Linda DesMarais, General Manager for the station formerly known as SNN6.

And guess what? SNN is back, baby! Formally to be known as SNN LOCAL News 6, the station will resume broadcasting at 5 p.m., on Thursday, February 26th.

Here’s my report:

“The sale is all but done but we are not yet closed,” says DesMarais. “We just decided that since we are planning to be back on the air on Thursday, we really can’t sit on the story any longer — we want people to know we’ll be back on the air.”

The official new owner of the station is LDB Media LLC; the majority owners are Linda DesMarais and her husband Doug Barker; and DesMarais says, “The majority of the investors are local.”

Barker and DesMarais, in addition to being a married couple, have been longtime business partners in the news biz; they’ve got over 30 years of experience in delivering local television. “We were part of the group that took over ABC 7 when it was WWSB Channel 40 in 1986; Doug was president and general manager of that company and I was station manager.”

DesMarais says the community will see all of the old favorites back on the air reporting — Adrienne Stein, Antawan Smith, and I think Justin Mosely, just to name a few. Everyone that is, except Bruce Asbury, who has separately told me that he wanted to retire from regular news reporting.

DesMarais confirmed that as well. “We have everyone back except for Bruce Asbury who took this time to retire. He’s actually been wanting to retire and I think the moment was right for him. I think he brought a very special talent to SNN so we’re sorry that he’ll be gone but I’m respectful … he’s tried to retire a couple of times and I’d talked him out of it.”

No more Bruce, and I know I’ll miss him (and a lot of you will too, judging by the emails I’ve received that sung his praises) but it’s for a good cause. He’ll be resting and kicking up his heels and probably getting into some form of mischief if I had to take a guess.

DesMarais will continue on her role as General Manager of the new SNN LOCAL News 6 station; Barker will be President.

“[Barker] brings tremendous knowledge and experience on the television sales side and will be working closely with our VP of Sales,” DesMarais said

Robb Olsen is that VP of Sales; according to DesMarais and he’s already on the job as of February 23. Speaking of Olsen, DesMarais said, “He actually comes to us from the Herald-Tribune where he was VP of Sales and Marketing up until last fall.”

To make a go of SNN LOCAL News 6, advertising is going to be critical, and DesMarais describes Olsen as “brilliant,” adding, “I feel really lucky that we have attracted him to our efforts.”

Olsen and Barker should be able to hit the ground running. According to DesMarais, SNN advertisers “have been waiting for us to come back.”

DesMarais wouldn’t comment on the sales price of the station or provide any additional information on specific investors, and it isn’t yet clear to me whether they are officially renting space from the Herald-Tribune or not, but she did describe the new station’s relationship with the Herald-Tribune:

“We are not tied to the Herald-Tribune in the sense of sales and we are not tied in terms of ownership. We are a separate entity. We’re really an affiliated business with them [the Herald-Tribune] so the fact that we are residing here [at the H-T office on Main Street in Sarasota] is pretty implicit to the whole deal that we have with them, the whole partnership. Certainly the great advantage of being affiliated with them is to continue and advance the news convergence that we’ve had since day one.”

DesMarais says viewers who tune in on Thursday will see pretty much a “seamless return.” No big redesign of the news delivery, but a crucial change in the name of the station. “We are doing one modification,” she says, “and it’s in terms of our logo.”

“The key for SNN’s continued success is, of course, to be local,” DesMarais explains. “And so, we are now referring to ourselves in a very detailed way — our new name is SNN LOCAL News 6.”

And, for everyone who thought SNN was dead and couldn’t survive the soul-gnashing times facing media of all shapes and sizes, DesMarais says she’s got a plan for viability and profitability.

“I will say that this is certainly the first time that SNN will take advantage of a company that is experienced in television on the sales side. In other words, prior to us taking over, all of the television sales people at SNN reported to the ad director at the newspaper and that structure wasn’t really the best for the television sales.

So now we’ve changed the structure; we have the people in place with television experience, and we have an extremely viable plan in place to increase profitability.”

And finally, DesMarais gives a little love back to the community of viewers that had lamented its off-air status and begged for its return. She credits the community’s enthusiasm for SNN with even helping attract investors to bringing the station back.

“I do want to stress that the support from the community helped us in immeasurable ways. I can’t underestimate how much that meant to us. I believe that [the community’s enthusiasm] also spread to people that we talked to as potential investors.”

Here’s to the little station that could … and I hope it can — continue successfully — for a long time yet to come.

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Posted on February 24th, 2009Comments RSS Feed
9 Responses to SNN LOCAL News 6 — it’s back, baby — beginning on Thursday, February 26 at 5 p.m.!!
  1. […] note: The piece below was recently posted by Sarasota blogger and columnist MC Coolidge on her own site, mccoolidge.com, and she has […]

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  2. Great News! Welcome back SNN. Excellent details in the story as well. I will miss Bruce though.

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  3. What VERY good news. I was so sad to lose SNN6. Welcome back.

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  4. I imagine the H-T is renting their City of Sarasota taxpayers subsidized office space to the new ownership group at a substantial discount. If they are benefiting from another government giveaway from the have-not’s to the have’s, I would like the new owners to publicly disclose that information.

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  5. That is good news MC …. Another idea is for them to hire you in any position with your writing or on air skills.Your recent appearance on TV and your insightful writing talents I should think they could use you on their team..Just a thought… keep up all the great work that you do:-)

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  6. I wonder what will make the current investor group any less demanding of a positive financial performance than the HT?

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  7. Great idea, Steve.. She could headline/host “The Reality Check Show. Featuring, the very chic M.C. Coolidge.”

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  8. If they were losing money when the Tribune owned the station how are they expecting to all of a sudden make money now? That place has been mismanaged for years and the quality of on-air talent with a few exceptions is no better than a college tv station. Someone who needs a tax loss write-off must have kicked in the money to put it back on the air.

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  9. Harriet Cuthbert
    February 26, 2009 at 2:46 pm

    Hello SNN LOCAL NEWS–
    Welcome back to the neighborhood, wishing you only the best, and we’re glad that the gang is returning. Bruce needs a break too. He has done a wonderful job. Hoping to see our fabulous local girl, MC Coolidge, on a regular basis.
    Cheers,
    Harriet C.

    Reply

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