Market Eye: 'Boro of Vital Statistics

Acquisitions, arrivals and departures—there is action aplenty in Greensboro/High Point/Winston-Salem, N.C.

Why This Matters

What’s Working in Greensboro/High Point/Winston-Salem


The Andy Griffith Show
is an institution in Greensboro/High Point/Winston Salem. Mayberry is a stand-in for the market’s Mt. Airy, N.C., and Andy occupied WFMY’s 5:30 p.m. slot for much of the last half-century.

Until late April, that is, when the station moved the series from 5:30 to a double-run starting at 3 p.m. Plenty of viewers complained, but Larry Audas, WFMY president and GM, says it was the right move. “I like the idea of sharing Andy with the after-school audience,” he says, “and I like the idea of twice as much Andy. I felt we could do this in the day of the DVR.”

Audas, a former news director, also had major plans for the 5:30 slot, where he took WFMY’s investigative brand “2 Wants to Know” and turned it into a newscast, anchored by Tanya Rivera. Adults 25-54 ratings are down 0.7 from a year ago at 5:30, but Audas says the new newscast is poised to succeed. “It’s never what the 5 and 6 [newscasts] are, and it’s not what the other guys are doing,” says Audas. “It’s investigative, consumer-oriented, fresh and different—it’s what we all talk about doing.” —MM | @BCMikeMalone

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It's been a fitful time in Greensboro/High Point/Winston-Salem, N.C., and
that’s without even considering the 16 straight days of rain starting in late June. Karen Adams, a fixture in the market after a decade
and a half running WGHP, left to take over Fox’s
newest owned station, WJZY Charlotte. WFMY parent
Gannett pulled off the station deal of the year
in its Belo acquisition, only to have that title swiped
when WGHP owner Local TV was acquired by Tribune
for $2.7 billion.

WFMY also nabbed what it calls “the Piedmont
Triad’s most popular news anchor” in Julie Luck
from WGHP. “A lot of things have been going on at
the other stations,” says Hank Price, WXII president
and general manager. “We’re very stable here.”

A Little ‘R&R’

In the spirit of the market these days, WFMY is far
along with its plans to essentially remake the station
in a DMA where NBC affiliate WXII wins household
ratings and Fox outlet WGHP claims adults. Larry
Audas, WFMY president/GM, is implementing his
“R&R” plan, which involves very little rest or relaxation.
The CBS affiliate is talking up “Risk and Relevance”
to compete with the big players: scrapping its
traditional sets and delivery, moving a local treasure
out of an established daypart and otherwise doing
whatever it takes to stand out.

“We are looking for relevance, and we’re not afraid
of the risk to get there,” says Audas.

Sinclair has ABC affiliate WXLV and MyNetworkTV
station WMYV. Lockwood Broadcasting recently
acquired WCWG. The CW affiliate has increased its
presence at events around the market. “That’s something
we will continue to do,” says Matt Pumo, VP
and general manager.

Time Warner Cable is the primary subscription TV
operator in the DMA; its News 14 channel produces
6:30 a.m., 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. newscasts for WXLV.

News 14 has five channels across North Carolina.
Featuring weather on the 1s and a nightly 10 p.m.
sports show—along with updates from its higherprofile
cousins in Washington and on Wall Street—
News 14 ran an intense abortion debate live out of
Raleigh in early July. “It’s become a huge issue,” says
Alan Mason, News 14 VP/GM. “Our ability to put it
on is one of the things that differentiates us.”

There is a major news station in each subsection of
the northern N.C. market. WFMY is in Greensboro,
WGHP is in High Point and Hearst TV’s WXII is in
Winston-Salem. “Regionalism plays a big role in the
history of viewing the stations here,” says Audas.

WXII and WFMY were deadlocked in total-day
household ratings in the May sweeps. WFMY won
primetime in a landslide. WXII had the top 11 p.m.
score, its 5.8 rating/11 share ahead of WFMY’s 5.6/10,
while WGHP put up a 6.5/10 at 10 and easily won the
25-54 race. WXII grabbed the early evening news contests
and posted the top a.m. news household numbers.

BIA/Kelsey has WGHP atop the revenue pack
in DMA No. 46 with an estimated $22 million last
year, ahead of WXII ($20.6 million) and WFMY
($19.9 million).

Karen Adams joined WGHP as a camera operator
in 1976 and became GM in 1997. Jim Clayton came
out of retirement in April to run the station on an interim
basis after her exit. He is a familiar face within
Fox, having been the GM at WNYW New York, among
others, while most recently running Fisher’s Seattle
properties. WGHP features 8½ hours of local news
per day and what Clayton describes as “very tenured,
recognizable people” on the set. Clayton says coanchor
Katie Nordeen’s promotion to evenings has been
smashing. “There was concern when Julie [Luck] left,
but it turned out that we just got better,” he says.

Bigger News Appetite

Amid what Price calls a “stable” environment at
WXII, the NBC affiliate is trying new things. Coming
out of the Olympics last summer, Price sought to capitalize
on the popularity of digi-net Me-TV by launching
a 10 p.m. newscast on the dot-two. He says it’s averaging
close to a 1 household rating. “There was only one
10 p.m. news in the market, and I felt like there was a
bigger appetite than that,” he says. “Me-TV has been a
huge success, and we saw this as an opportunity.”

WXII has focused on North Carolina’s war heroes of
the past, including its Flight of Honor work with World
War II vets and a Vietnam veterans special. The station
saluted local Korean War heroes with a primetime special
July 25, 60 years after the truce was signed.

Over at transforming WFMY, Audas has gotten rid
of anchor desks and put a second studio in the newsroom.
There’s a stand-up table to keep meetings crisp
and lively, and an investigative newscast in place of
Andy Griffith at 5:30. “The approach is
different, the presentation is different,” says Audas,
“and I’d like to think the content is different.”

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