Sinclair Broadcast Group losing a second top executive


For the second time in three days, a top executive announced his departure from Cockeysville-based Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc.

Patrick Talamantes, Sinclair's chief financial officer, is leaving in two weeks to return to his native Northern California to become CFO for the McClatchy Co., a Sacramento-based newspaper chain, Sinclair announced yesterday.

Talamantes two days earlier had announced the departure of Barry Drake as chief executive officer of Sinclair's television division.

David Smith, chief executive officer, described the back-to-back resignations as a "huge set of coincidences."

Talamantes, 36, agreed. "I found an opportunity to head back" to California with his wife and two sons, ages 5 and 2, he said. He joined Sinclair when it bought his previous employer, River City Broadcasting, in 1996. He became director of corporate finance for Sinclair, then treasurer in September 1998 and CFO a year later. The McClatchy Company he now joins publishes 11 daily and 13 nondaily newspapers, on the West Coast, in the Carolinas and in Minneapolis-St. Paul.

"David's a very talented individual. We'll miss him," said David Amy, a Sinclair executive vice president who will resume the CFO duties he previously held. Amy began with the company in 1984 at a Pittsburgh television station.

Investment analysts who follow the company described the successive departures as surprising, but not damaging to the company. Its shares closed unchanged at $9.06 on the Nasdaq stock market yesterday.

"This is America and there are plenty of qualified people to fill those slots. Sinclair will be fine," said W. Timothy Wallace, an analyst with Banc of America Securities in New York. "Both of these executives were good, but I'm sure that David Smith will find good replacements."

"It creates a little uncertainty from the Street's point of view," said Peter Lerner, with Arnhold & S. Bleichroeder in New York. "But, fortunately, David Amy's been with the company for a while."

Smith - who helped grow the TV station his father began in 1971 into the largest nonnetwork-related broadcaster in the country with 62 stations in 40 markets - had nothing but praise for Talamantes and Drake. "There are a lot of talented people here and we'll do fine," Smith said.

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