The Hudson Channel : Ch 21 : Hudson, New York Serving the Hudson Valley community with community, arts, entertainment, political programming.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Entrepreneur has high hopes for low power TV station

Entrepreneur has high hopes for low power TV station
GERMANTOWN—Sean Small knows exactly what he wants. “My goal is to be the key local broadcaster,”  says the 32-year-old New Yorker, who has been broadcasting on Channel 21 out of a studio in Germantown for the past several months.
To achieve his goal, Mr. Small intends to augment family-friendly entertainment from PAX and shopping shows with locally-produced shows covering politics, real estate and antiques.

The television station, which is identified by the call letters WSSN, has a 1,000-watt transmitter and operates 24 hours a day. Its signal is directed to cover both sides of the Hudson River from Poughkeepsie to Albany, although those would be the outer limits of the signal.

Mr. Small heard through a business associate several months ago that the license for an over-the-air low power TV station broadcasting from Catskill was for sale as part of a package deal that included some real estate. The station had been operating in Catskill for 5 years; as soon as the sale was completed he moved the transmitter across the river and increased the wattage.

“They did some shop-at-home and a regional sports network,” says Mr. Small. “It was a hodgepodge, with not much local stuff. Our goal is to be a dependable local channel.”

Mr. Small grew up in New York City, where he graduated from a private school on the Upper East Side and majored in international relations and art history at college. For the past several years he has managed, developed and invested in Manhattan real estate, but that is just one of many interests. “Real estate is what I’ve been involved with,” he says, “but what I am is an entrepreneur.”

News and community affairs are of particular importance to Mr. Small, who has served on community boards in New York City. He says he intends to focus on development and land use issues in the station’s real estate shows. But the station will be run as a business, and the shows will pay their own way with segments selling ads to highlight the latest real estate listings.

As for his politics show, says Mr. Small, “There’s no dearth of issues, and that’s what’s fun about it.” He envisions the show as “some combination of Meet the Press and Charlie Rose—it gives the opportunity to match a name with a face. And also, he’s articulating an issue, and I can make a more educated decision on what’s happening.”

While Mr. Small says has a pretty good idea who will be hosting the community affairs show, he’s not announcing it just yet for fear of losing out to a higher bidder. But his host for the antiques show, Rick Lawler, is ready to go public, and he’s confident the show will be a success. The format is simple: a discussion with a guest expert will be followed by a period when viewers can call in with their questions and comments.

“After two months, at the outside, the thing will be a Saturday morning landmark,” says Mr. Lawler,

Mr. Lawler has been in radio for 15 years, first with Strauss Broadcasting and now on WAMC in Albany, where he co-hosts a show with Fred Carlsen of Carlson Gallery in Freehold. And for several years he operated an antiques shop on Warren Street in Hudson.

Channel 21 will also show movies, and Mr. Small’s company will soon begin producing and distributing documentaries. A website,, currently under construction, will provide supplemental content.

“The key is to be viewed as beneficial to the community,” says Mr. Small.

He and his wife have a son who will turn 4 on the 4th of March, and they’re expecting a second child on or about March 30. The family lives in New York City, and Mr. Small stays at a place in Hudson for half a week at a time. Will they eventually buy a home in Columbia County? “For now, it’s the station,” Mr. Small says with a grin.

To contact the station, visit

By Richard Roth/The Independent

To contact reporter Richard Roth, e-mail

‘There’s no dearth of issues, and that’s what’s fun about it.’
Sean Small, owner
Channel 21, WSSN