Bay Area Revolution: 1 If by Land, 2 If by Drone

News teams in sprawling mega-market uncover community angles by any available means

MARKET EYE: SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA, CALIF.

RECENT NEWS STORIES: Drought in California; transportation and housing crisis in the Bay Area; fires in Napa County and the Sierras; championships for Golden State Warriors in 2015 and San Francisco Giants in 2014; Super Bowl 50 in Santa Clara on Feb. 7.

LOWDOWN: The vast, populous Northern California market spreads across the region’s three major cities—San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose—and beyond into the suburban areas of the South, North and East Bays. Regardless of their main office, stations have staff and offices located throughout the Bay Area.

STATIONS (OWNER/AFFILIATION): KGO San Francisco (ABC/ABC); KPIX San Francisco (CBS/CBS); KTVU Oakland (Fox/Fox); KNTV San Jose (NBC/NBC)

OWNER/AFFILIATION CHANGES: KTVU, previously a Fox affiliate owned by Cox, was acquired by Fox Television Stations in late December to become the market’s fourth owned-and-operated station.

KGO SAN FRANCISCO (ABC/ABC)

INSIGHTS FROM THE FRONT LINES: “Our coverage of news continues to be top-notch, but we continue to work as if that’s not the case. Our dedication and commitment to doing better is really terrific,” says William Burton, president and general manager.

WHAT’S NEW: KGO recently retooled its morning show with a new team. A year ago, the station launched Bay Area Life, a half-hour local lifestyle show airing Sunday nights at 6:30. The sales department came to Burton and management with the idea: There were lots of people doing things in the Bay Area who wanted to be featured in a show, but KGO didn’t have one. “They prompted us to create it, and we’re really proud of it,” Burton says.

WHAT’S ON: With ABC/ESPN a major partner of the NBA, KGO has been trying to reap the benefits of having the world champion and immensely popular Golden State Warriors in their own backyard. KGO was the only local TV station from any market to travel to New York to cover the NBA All-Star Game last year. “[The Warriors’] emergence has been terrific for us,” Burton says. “We’ve been able to embrace them with our viewers.”

WHO THEY ARE: Working with nonprofit KaBOOM!, the ABC-owned station helped build a playground in Oakland a little over a year ago. KGO televised the experience throughout the day as staff came to support the project. KaBOOM! and KGO are teaming up again next month to build a playground in San Jose.

DID YOU KNOW?: KGO became the market’s first station to use a drone last summer. Its flights have included trips over Candlestick Park (before it was torn down) and Doyle Drive near the Golden Gate Bridge during a road closure.

KPIX SAN FRANCISCO (CBS/CBS)

Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 8.58.55 AM.pngINSIGHTS FROM THE FRONT LINES: “It’s the stories and content that make the difference. We don’t miss much. We never lose,” says Bruno Cohen, president and general manager.

WHAT’S NEW: KPIX built a new production control room that went online at the end of October. In addition, the station has modernized its approach to sales, sharing more data, customized solutions and research with clients. KPIX has been rolling out the new sales program since last fall focused on providing services for clients, assessing and analyzing brand impact and popularity. “Contemporizing our approach to engagement with our clients, letting them see us as more than a media platform but also as a resource that lets them understand the media world, is a real important strategic thrust for us and probably top of the agenda for our sales,” Cohen says.

WHO THEY ARE: Cohen is proud of how collaborative his staff is and how well they adapt to changes and communicate with each other. “Our commitment is to give them good tools and good training, and I ask in return their commitment to roll with the punches and deal with the changes,” he says

KEY STAT: 10—the number of full-time multimedia journalists at KPIX. Not only do these MMJs—who shoot, edit and report their own stories—not need to come into the office to edit, which saves time in a vast market with regularly congested roads, “they can create a more intimate relationship with someone they’re trying to talk to” without a big camera and a second person, Cohen says.

KTVU OAKLAND (FOX/FOX)

INSIGHTS FROM THE FRONT LINES: “Because we have so much local news, we can go deeper into topics with more depth and context,” says Dana McDaniel, VP of news. “Our newscast is a more complete picture of what’s happening in the Bay Area. With our six-hour-long local morning newscast, we can stay really local and talk about a lot more issues than those who have to go to network programming.

WHAT’S NEW: KTVU launched a 4 a.m. newscast soon after the station became a Fox O&O in late 2014. It debuted a 4 p.m. hour-long newscast in June followed by another hour of news at 9 a.m. in September. KTVU cleared space on the second floor of its facility in Oakland for its 9 a.m. show so the backdrop would be the San Francisco Bay, showing the “natural beauty of this area” with the occasional sailboat causing by, McDaniel says. The station also added a sports show at 11 on Sunday nights. In addition, KTVU, which is located in Oakland and has a bureau in downtown San Francisco, is securing a new space in the South Bay that will have San Jose City Hall as the backdrop. The station is hoping to open the new dedicated full-time bureau in mid-March.

WHAT’S ON: The Fox station recently added new graphics and relaunched Bay Area People, a hyperlocal half-hour weekend morning show.

KEY STAT: 13—hours of news KTVU added last year. “We are now the No. 1 producer of local news in this marketplace,” says Gregg Kelley, VP and general manager. “Our goal is to continue to build on the success of this television station. That’s our mindset. The expansion reflects that.”

KNTV SAN JOSE (NBC/NBC)

INSIGHTS FROM THE FRONT LINES: “We hold the powerful accountable,” says Rich Cerussi, president and general manager. “We do a very good job with everyday news and breaking news. Everyday we try to do stories in-depth and do a little more than most stations, doing thoughtful journalism and stories. We don’t do easy.”

WHAT’S NEW: The station, headquartered in San Jose but serving the entire Bay Area, last year added four regional newsrooms throughout the market. The San Francisco one opened in April; the other three—in Contra Costa County, Tri-Valley and Hayward—opened in December. Similarly, to extend its focus further beyond San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose, which receive the majority of the coverage in the market, KNTV has created a team of embedded community journalists who live in the suburbs and work in those new newsrooms, bringing a new wrinkle to its news coverage. “We have people digging we didn’t have before,” says Jonathan Mitchell, VP of news.

WHAT’S ON: The station started documentary series “Bay Area Revelations” with six one-hour shows in 2015 and another four originals set for 2016. The documentaries, narrated by Emmy winner Peter Coyote, focus on a particular movement, theme or event in the Bay Area, such as the area’s food or artists. “Rich challenged us with that. It was going to be hard,” Mitchell says. “To see what they’ve put together, I’m pretty proud of those shows, to do quality local programing like that.”

SPOTLIGHT

Enterprise reporting has long been a focus of KPIX.

“We are believers that the thing that really differentiates one station from another is having important stories that nobody else has,” says Bruno Cohen, KPIX president and general manager.

However, the CBS O&O spent about a year and a half promoting that coverage without a brand. Last fall, in time for the new broadcast season, KPIX began to associate that coverage with the slogan “Expect More.”

“We want to build brand equity into that statement, Expect More, so you can expect coverage here that nobody else has,” Cohen says. “We’re going to do breaking news coverage, we’re going to do sidebars to all important stories of the day, but you can expect more from us.”

The station does weekly spots—sometimes twice in one week—that highlight the enterprise coverage. And with that promotion, Cohen says, the onus is on the station to deliver.

One such story that epitomizes the Expect More brand came out in late December. KPIX found out that the leader of a motorcycle group that drove around the city recklessly pulling risky stunts was actually a Marin County sheriff’s deputy. The reporter confronted him, and the story led to his dismissal from the sheriff’s department.

“We’re doing stories like that virtually daily,” Cohen says.