AEDC Director's Wife Hired as Anchor for SSN Media

AEDC Director's Wife Hired as Anchor for SSN Media
Arkansas Economic Development Commission Director Mike Preston with his wife Anne Imanuel. (Lance Turner)

The wife of Mike Preston, the new director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, has landed a new job.

The television news personality was hired on at SSN Media Gateway at the end of June, according to Managing Partner Jeff Lyle.

Lyle said Preston’s wife, who uses the name Anne Imanuel on air, will serve as an anchor for the company.

SSN Media Gateway owns the Independent News Network, which provides production services for a handful of stations, and Imanuel is co-anchoring the news for WRDE-TV in Salisbury, Maryland.

SSN Media Gateway may sound familiar to Arkansas Business readers because of its close ties to Soul of the South.

You might recall that the firm offices in the same building at 1 Shackleford Drive in west Little Rock, owned by another company with SOS ties, and the two share a suite number.

Lyle played down SSN Media Gateway’s relation to the fledgling network in a recent interview, stating that the two were “not connected” besides Gateway providing some services to Soul of the South.

But the two might be closer, depending on whom you ask.

When Soul of the South launched in 2013, one of its first press releases stated that SOS was owned by SSN Funding LP, “which also owns and operates Southern Soul Broadcasting, SSN Networks, Inc., and SSN Media Gateway, LLC.”

You might also recall that the AEDC is in talks with Soul of the South to collect on an overdue $250,000 loan to the company.

An AEDC spokesman said that he didn’t think Imanuel’s hire created a conflict of interest and that it wouldn’t affect the agency’s efforts to recoup its loan to SSN Funding.

SOS Building Offer

In related news, more information has turned up about the man behind the holding company that offered to purchase Arkansas Capital Corp.’s note on the Soul of the South building.

You might recall that several entities have an interest in the building, including ACC and AEDC, for loans and grants provided to Soul of the South. ACC holds a note on a $1.5 million loan for the building.

Matthew Davidge, co-owner of a holding company called Interactivation, with offices in New York and Wisconsin, made an offer to ACC for the building for an undisclosed price. After he spoke with the Soul of the South board chairman, he withdrew the offer, stating, “In my opinion, Soul of the South will fail unless new management is brought in, a new business strategy is adopted, and new investment capital is raised. (Good luck with all that.)”

Lyle, the managing partner, said last week that Davidge is also a client of SSN Media Gateway and one of its largest customers.

After Imanuel was hired, your Whispers staff decided to check the Federal Communications Commission’s ownership records for WRDE, the Maryland station for which Imanuel is now on-air talent.

The licensee listed is Price Hill Television LLC based in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, where Davidge, who is also listed as the station contact, is the controlling shareholder.

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