Cable chief sees more local programs

July 23, 1993|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,Contributing Writer

Janet Coffey Hollinger, 31, the newly appointed general manager of Prestige Cablevision, Channel 3, wanted to be a rock singer when she was growing up in Danville, Ill., a farming town on the Indiana border.

"I wanted to be like Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac. Why? I don't know. I can't sing," she recalled the other day in her Westminster office.

"In fact, my husband says I can't sing, and we're both pretty sure that I can't sing," she said.

Instead of becoming a Top 10 rocker, she began her locabusiness career in 1985 at Landmark Publications as an account executive. That was followed by a three-month stint at Baltimore's City Paper. She then returned to the Carroll County Times in 1987 until being hired by Prestige in 1988 as advertising sales manager.

She graduated from Eastern Illinois University, where she was a marketing major, in 1983. However, she credits her parents with much of her later success.

"My dad was a small businessman and a farmer while my mom was a pioneer in the advertising business who owned and operated her own agency and graphics business," she said.

Ms. Hollinger grew up helping out in her mother's business.

"I shot so many half-tones I swore I'd never shoot half-tones, sell ,, advertising, cars or insurance," she said. "So, what did I do? I married a car dealer and sold advertising but haven't yet sold insurance."

She married Scott Hollinger, 35, a partner at Davis Buick in Westminster, in 1989.

The small-town atmosphere of Westminster and Carroll County is something that she likens to her own hometown.

"Westminster is a lot like Danville where one-half of the folks work there while the other half commutes," she said. "I realize that there is tremendous potential for growth here but what we need to do is have managed growth."

Prestige Cablevision operates in Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia, where its headquarters are located in Cartersville. Its Maryland operation is only in Carroll County, where it serves 23,200 households.

With a staff of 14 full-time employees, Prestige is a leader of small market systems of less than 100,000 viewers, growing from nTC 14,000 original subscribers when the system

went on the air in 1987 to 23,000 today, said Ms. Hollinger.

She readily admits that people are relying more and more on cable television for information and entertainment because of changing life styles.

"We plan to do more local programming to further meet our goals for Carroll County," she said. "Such programs as 'Your County Commissioners' and 'Your County Government' help keep busy people informed as to the issues that directly affect them and life here in Carroll County."

Acknowledging that she leans more and more toward a public television format for cable subscribers, she has plans for more local programs such as a tourism show, fashion reviews, chef's spotlight focusing on chefs from area restaurants, as well as a local business spotlight feature.

"Locker Room Talk," is one such show planned for the fall.

"This will be a live sports show, which we're producing in conjunction with Locker Room Communications, a marketing firm in Westminster," she said. "The show will air before 'Monday Night Football,' and will be broadcast before a live audience at Reunions Restaurant with Tom Matte, the ex-Colt, as host."

She said that, while advertising costs don't begin to cover the cost of added programming, "My challenge is to put image-building dollars that reflect an advertiser's interest into such programs. We are able to offer TV advertising on a national network. Local businesses can advertise on Cable News Network, which is Prestige, where the advertisers' ad is locally targeted."

She steps before the cameras when she does a bridal show once a year.

She said folks recognize her in the mall: "There goes the bridal lady."

Her latest project is the restoration of a craftsman style house on Ridge Road.

"We're moving out of a Victorian-era house in Uniontown," she said, "and moving into an arts and crafts house."

This last move, she promises, will provide her space for a studio where she can relax by working with stained glass.

"My husband bicycles every chance he gets and I enjoy working with glass," she said.

Her self-confessed love is architecture.

"Someday I want to go to architecture school and I'll probably be the oldest architectural student in the school," she said.

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