After two years, Quint and Rishy Studer will exit their partnership with Pensacola’s BLAB-TV early next year, Mr. Studer confirmed Wednesday.
“When we began the lease, it was our hope we could sell more locally produced shows and specials,” said Studer. “We feel good about the specials, the town halls, and the Daily Brew. However, with the many more avenues available, we could not garner the financial support to sustain such programming.”
Studer said that he would continue to produce content for BLAB. “We plan on continuing to create local programs and will purchase air time to do so after the completion of the lease,” said Studer. “We will be a good customer for BLAB. The local programs will be geared to small businesses.”
Lease signed in 2014
Studer, a local developer and owner of the Pensacola Blue Wahoos baseball team, announced a partnership with longtime BLAB owners Fred and Brenda Vigodsky in April 2014. The partnership essentially allowed Studer to lease and manage the station in exchange for a fee paid to the Vigodskys. The agreement included a purchase option which would have allowed Studer to buy out the Vigodskys’ stake in the station.
At the time, the Vigodskys said they “could not be more pleased.”
“We love this area and have been looking for the right group to continue and build on what we have put our lives and souls into for the last 30 years,” said Fred Vigodsky. “We are grateful to the many businesses and organizations that have utilized BLAB over the years to grow their companies, their cause and this area. We strongly believe this partnership with Quint and Rishy Studer is the perfect avenue to keep the momentum going.”
BLAB revamped under Studer management
Studer has made several high-profile changes to the station over the past year, including rebranding with a new logo, hiring longtime WEAR anchor Mollye Barrows, and staging an expansive Talent Search event. BLAB also launched an array of new original programming, including the “Daily Brew,” a morning news and talk program.
Former Pensacola News Journal sports writer D.C. Reeves was hired to helm the station’s original sports content, and has hosted a new weekly prep football show this year.
“We have had a great experience working with the BLAB Network owners,” said Studer. “We invested in the studio and feel the quality of programming is excellent.”
“We plan on working very hard until the end of lease and to have a seamless transition to the BLAB Network owners,” said Studer.
Studer said that while some employees would remain with BLAB, others would be affected by the change.
“We will retain the staff that handles the production of the BLAB programs that showcase businesses and organizations telling their story, as well as the support staff and sales personnel that support what BLAB is known for,” said Studer. “We find the demand for those growing. For those that were brought on for original programming, we have been very upfront on the situation, and they will be provided severance packages which includes outplacement services.”
Reached on Wednesday, Vigodsky said he hopes to keep BLAB on the air, but that’s he’s not prepared to return to managing the station himself. “I’m closer to my 80th birthday than I am my 79th,” he said. “I’m hoping to sell it. I’m in the process of speaking with several prospects that could potentially be interested in a fully-equipped TV station.”
UPDATE: NewsRadio 1620 interviewed Quint Studer this afternoon: