Monday, November 30 , 2015, 9:23 am | Fair 58º

KEYT’s New Owners Plan Station Expansion, Rebranding

Santa Barbara television station looks to add a news director and other positions in an effort to grow the market

Mark Danielson, recently named general manager of Santa Barbara-based KEYT, says the television station’s new owners are embarking on a plan to expand and rebrand operations.
Mark Danielson, recently named general manager of Santa Barbara-based KEYT, says the television station’s new owners are embarking on a plan to expand and rebrand operations.  (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo)

By Gina Potthoff, Noozhawk Staff Writer | @ginapotthoff |

KEYT viewers can expect to see some new faces and other changes as part of an expansion and rebranding effort by the television station’s new owners.

The sale of KEYT, the Central Coast’s ABC affiliate station, to Missouri-based News-Press & Gazette Co. was finalized late last year in a $14.25 million deal that included a related digital television property, MyRTV.

Smith Media, which owns WFFF-TV in Vermont and WKTV in New York, announced the sale of its station in September, which was made official with Federal Communications Commission approval.

NPG has carried over all KEYT staff and management from Smith Media except for the general manager position, which was taken over by Mark Danielson.

Smith Media CEO Mike Granados, the former general manager, told Noozhawk last year that he would continue overseeing Smith Media’s other properties in Vermont and New York.

Danielson said Monday that NPG purchased KEYT to grow the market, not to make cuts as other stations have done in recent years.

“We are really excited,” said Danielson, who came to Santa Barbara from NPG’s Idaho market, and has more than two decades of experience in behind-the-scenes television production. “We’ve been doing a lot of things.”

He said KEYT is looking to hire two new reporters, sales staff and a full-time news director.

On-air personality C.J. Ward had been serving as news director, Danielson said, but KEYT announced to staff last week that Ward will now focus on anchoring responsibilities.

“C.J. really has been phenomenal,” Danielson said, noting that the expected growth of the station would make it difficult for Ward to also direct news. “It’s an exciting stage.”

NPG, which has a news presence in 10 markets throughout the country, is also investing more than $1 million in new equipment, including cameras, and rebranding changes that will be dictated by market research, Danielson said.

A new digital transmitter recently was installed in San Luis Obispo, and a move to high-definition news production and a brand new website are also in the works, he added.

“This station has so much heart,” Danielson said. “It’s really because of that heart that we’re going to be successful. Local news is really the core of what we do. We’ve invested heavily. We see a definitive growth area there.”

KEYT has about 50 employees and is NPG’s second market in California. The first is in Palm Springs.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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