SANTA ROSA, Calif., April 17, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Darius Anderson, owner and founder of Kenwood Investments, LLC, today announced that The Press Democrat, the North Bay's leading daily news source and 2018 Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper, and affiliated publications are free of all debt and have returned all capital to investors.
Sonoma Media Investments, LLC, which owns and operates The Press Democrat and affiliated publications, was formed by Anderson's Kenwood Investments in 2012 to restore local ownership and strengthen local journalism across the North Bay. In addition to The Press Democrat, Sonoma Media Investments owns the Sonoma Index-Tribune, Petaluma Argus-Courier, North Bay Business Journal, Sonoma Magazine, La Prensa Sonoma and Spirited Magazine.
Anderson began his rollup of media properties in 2012 with the purchase of the Sonoma Index-Tribune and Sonoma magazine to strengthen local journalism in his hometown community. At a time when media publications were shrinking, Anderson sought to expand.
"Once Darius purchased the Sonoma Index-Tribune and Sonoma Magazine, he saw the potential to create the largest media network in the North Bay," said Steve Falk, CEO of Sonoma Media Investments. "He moved quickly to raise capital, secure investors and purchase additional media assets in the North Bay to bring his vision to fruition, which culminated in paying off all debt and returning all capital to his investors."
Anderson credits his team and the local community for the success of Sonoma Media Investments, which has bucked the trend of declining industry revenues.
"We put together the best management team and reporters possible, and the people of North Bay responded," said Anderson, who is also Sonoma Media Investments' managing member and board chairman. "Local ownership and local journalism matter."
In January, Sonoma Media Investments completed the sale of surplus property surrounding its printing plant in Rohnert Park, California, to make possible the retirement of all remaining debt to investors.
The local investors, in addition to Anderson, included Sandy Weill, the retired CEO and chairman of Citigroup and the philanthropist behind the completion of the Green Music Center in Rohnert Park; Bill Jasper, the former CEO and president of Dolby; Les Vadasz, a founding member of Intel Corp.; Gary Nelson, founder of the Nelson Family of Companies, which specialize in staffing and recruitment; Norma Person, the widow of Evert Person, who sold The Press Democrat to the New York Times Co. in 1985; and Jeannie Schulz, widow of Charles Schulz, the creator of the Peanuts comic strip.
"The sale of excess property in Rohnert Park adds a great bonus — the creation of 156 units of much-needed housing in our community," added Falk. "As you look across the country at media companies, the ones in the greatest trouble are those deeply in debt. The retirement of our debt will allow us to focus on the local journalism that now reaches seven out of 10 Sonoma County adults."
Following Anderson's purchase of the Sonoma Index-Tribune and Sonoma Magazine, he assembled a group of local investors to establish Sonoma Media Investments to acquire The Press Democrat and affiliated publications from Halifax Media of Daytona, Florida. The deal was finalized on November 9, 2012.
With local ownership came a renewed emphasis on local journalism and community involvement. The Press Democrat staff won the highest honor in American journalism, the 2018 Pulitzer Prize, for its breaking news coverage of the deadly North Bay wildfires. The newspaper, in collaboration with community partners, also raised $32 million in four months and disbursed it immediately to those affected by the firestorm.
Anderson transformed the Sonoma Index-Tribune and Sonoma Magazine, expanding the management team, operations, sales and marketing, and refocusing Sonoma Magazine to encapsulate the way of life across Sonoma County.
Readership of Sonoma Media Investments' local print and digital products has increased every year since 2012. Today, 61 percent of Sonoma households still read a printed daily newspaper, one of the country's highest readership rates.
Anderson also owns Platinum Advisors, LLC, a leading government relations and lobbying firm with offices in Sacramento, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.
SOURCE Kenwood Investments, LLC