After purchasing the newspapers in 2005, Lee Enterprises recently sold the Santa Maria Times, Lompoc Record, and Santa Ynez Valley News to a group of executives who have purchased a number of publications throughout the state and country in recent years.
Lee Enterprises, which owns nearly 80 publications in the U.S., announced the sale on March 13 through a statement in each of its local papers. The transaction also includes the sale of a newspaper in the city of Hanford in Kings County.
“Lee is thankful for the contributions Santa Maria, Lompoc, and Hanford have made since 2005,” Lee President and CEO Kevin Mowbray said in the announcement. “They have shown an unwavering commitment to their communities and demonstrated exemplary local journalism.”
The announcement states that a newly formed company called Santa Maria News Media Inc. will take over the newspapers. Melanie Walsh and Roland McBride are listed as the company’s president and vice president, respectively, on state business filings.
Walsh and McBride are also listed on documents for other companies that were formed prior to purchasing smaller newspapers around the state in recent years. This includes The Bakersfield Californian—which Sound News Media Inc. purchased last June; The Antelope Valley Press—which Antelope Valley Press Inc. purchased in 2017; and the Lodi News-Sentinel—which Central Valley News-Sentinel Inc. purchased in 2015.
The Statement of Information forms that each of these businesses filed through the California Secretary of State list the same address for a shopping plaza in Marion, Illinois. After calling a number associated with that address, the Sun was told to contact Steven Malkowich at a phone number with a British Columbia area code. Malkowich didn’t return the call prior to press time.
According to a newsletter Los Angeles Times Staff Writer Julia Wick wrote in 2019, Malkowich works at the Vancouver-based Alberta Newspaper Group, which is run by David Radler. Radler worked alongside media baron Conrad Black for years prior to both men being tried for fraud in 2007. During the trial, Radler testified against Black and in exchange received a 29-month jail sentence, of which he served less than a year. In the newsletter, Wick also claims Walsh is Radler’s daughter.
In addition to newspapers in California, Walsh and McBride are listed on business filings for newspapers in Arizona and Rhode Island.