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Graham Media Group CEO visits WSLS 10

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ROANOKE (WSLS 10) - The staff at WSLS 10 met the new boss on Wednesday and began learning about Graham Media Group, the station's new owner as of January 17.  WSLS 10 is now one of seven stations owned by Graham, which already has television operations in Houston, Detroit, Orlando, San Antonio and Jacksonville.

Roanoke is the 67th largest television market in the country. Graham Media Group CEO Emily Barr says it was a perfect fit.

"When we had the opportunity to pick up one or two more television stations this market really jumped out at us because first of all, it's a beautiful part of the country. It's a growing market. It's very diverse sort of not only geographically diverse but it's got a great breath of people who live here," she said.

The immediate need this week is for staff to meet the new ownership and to handle the various human resources tasks that ensure employees get paid and have health and other benefits.

Meanwhile, work is already underway behind the scenes to make improvements that will eventually be apparent to viewers.

"There's a lot of interweaving with all the technical stuff that's going to take time to ‘un-weave' and move from one platform to another and so there's going to be three or four months there where that's going to be the main focus as we make these changes and start functioning as a Graham station," said WSLS 10 Vice President and General Manager Garry Kelly.

Barr said when the changes come they'll be enhancements of what the station is already doing.

"Potentially more news coverage, potentially even more community-minded programming and promotions and public service efforts that help the people who live here really feel connected and inspired," said Barr.

One of the intriguing characteristics of the new company is that is has a small number of corporate employees.  Eight to be exact.  Barr is one of them.

She explained that the streamlined system allows them to make decisions quickly and keep the emphasis on the stations themselves.

"We are not a company that puts on a lot of airs," said Barr. "We like to roll up our sleeves and get things done. We don't stand on ceremony. We don't have a lot of hierarchy so that's why you don't need a lot of people at corporate. We don't have a VP of this or a VP of that, we have enough people to get done, but we need to get done," she said.

In the meantime, Barr said the plan is to continue doing the things that made the station attractive to Graham in the first place, solid news coverage and community service. In the future, Barr said there will be even more of both.

"Let me say the one of the reasons we decided to buy this television station is because it's doing such a great job. And it's so committed to its community. So you're not going to see a lot that's going to look remarkably different. What I admire about this television station is the way it serves the community both in terms of what the news is delivering the way it serves in a community minded way 10 cares that sort of thing," said Barr.


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