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Media veteran David B. Simmons hits a home run

Cover story with photo

By Wayne Caparas

A new production company, dbs Advertising & Productions, has managed to gain a major foothold on one segment of the regional television industry by becoming the south Atlantic coast’s first non-network production company to produce and telecast live sports and other events with network-quality results.

In the space of a few months dbs contracted with the Charleston RiverDogs to broadcast live baseball games, then built a mobile broadcast facility from scratch. Now dbs is negotiating with the RiverDogs’ league to telecast a “Game of the Week” across the Southeast.  The production company has also been contracted to telecast at least eight of the College of Charleston’s NCAA Basketball games.

Family legacy

The venture is the brainchild of commercial producer/writer/actor David B. Simmons.  Viewers across America will recognize Simmons’ amiable voice and demeanor as the comic Mama’s Boy from the widely distributed Mama’s Used Car commercials.

Simmons joined his eldest son Steve in 1991 to build Studio Plus, one of the region’s largest television advertising and production firms. In 1998 Simmons and his youngest son Chris--considered the technical expert in the family--launched dbs.  With reputations on the line and no clearly defined mission or market niche, David Simmons and Studio Plus veteran Karen Welden hit the pavement running in search of high profile ad clients.

The dbs duo initially called on RiverDogs Baseball Vice President and General Manager Mark Schuster to propose producing commercials for the club. Schuster, however, felt that what the organization really needed was an affordable network to telecast the RiverDogs’ games.

Without hesitation Simmons assured Schuster that dbs was the answer to the team’s broadcast aspirations.   “David immediately developed his own tremendous vision for our future television exposure that far surpassed our own goals,” recalls Schuster.

But the first game was just three months away, and dbs had yet to acquire any mobile facilities or equipment. Most significantly, says Simmons, “I knew nothing about broadcasting sporting events.”

The first thing Simmons did after the meeting was call son Chris to find out if dbs could “technically” pull it off.  “(Chris) insisted we embark on this new adventure,” recalls Simmons.  Shortly thereafter, Schuster decided to proceed with the dbs proposal despite the challenges.

Field of dreams

In a matter of weeks, dbs assembled a team, raised the necessary capital to invest in first-class equipment and went into business. “The mobile production trailer David’s team built from scratch is phenomenal, and where live broadcast is concerned, equipment and facilities are paramount,” says Schuster. In addition, dbs purchased a satellite truck from WCSC and is re-fitting it with the latest microwave and satellite technology.

After five live broadcast games, Schuster believes the quality of dbs production rivals the major networks, and once cost is factored in, “dbs is by far the leader in the region.”

Simmons gives the lion’s share of credit to his son Chris for making the mobile studio a reality.  “I’ve been blessed to have him as my partner,” says Simmons.

“I can’t let my dad have all this fun by himself,” responds Chris.

Simmons also has begun negotiations with ESPN to cover a wide range of sporting events throughout the South. Considering the ongoing boom in southeastern sporting events, the dbs team should keep the family business thriving well into the next decade.