New paper will serve residents of agricultural valley, owner says.
The owners of AAN member San Luis Obispo New Times recently launched an alternative weekly in northern Santa Barbara County, Calif. Covering an area 50 miles south of its parent paper, the Santa Maria Sun hit the streets March 31 with 20,000 copies, said Executive Editor and majority owner Steve Moss.
Moss said New Times SLO Inc. started a new paper in the Santa Maria Valley because the area was without any form of print media. Moss owns the company along with New Times General Manager Bob Rucker and Art Director Alex Zuniga.
Santa Maria is a mostly agricultural town wedged between Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo. Before the Sun’s arrival, residents were forced to rely on the two chain-owned dailies and a handful of weeklies based in those cities. The folks at New Times are betting there’s a market for a paper focusing exclusively on Santa Maria.
“Real people live in a place like Santa Maria. It’s a real town,” Moss said. “It’s a hard working town. It has different concerns and a different feel than the land of the pretty people [Santa Barbara].”
Moss said this is the first time since 1958 that a newspaper has been launched in the area, making it extremely important to the valley’s 112,000 residents. With the new paper, Moss plans to “marry an alternative newspaper with a community newspaper.”
San Louis Obispo New Times was started in 1986. The Santa Maria Sun is the company’s second paper.