Market Eye: The Cleveland ShowsLocal TV personalities fly on the shores of Lake Erie 2/25/2013 12:01:00 AM Eastern
A bit of attitude works well on-air in Cleveland-Akron, Ohio.
WOIO has taken steps forward in recent years by allowing talent
to speak their minds on stories they’re reporting. WKYC threw
its weight behind a school levy known as Issue 107, starting some six weeks out from the election,
featuring a primetime special, a dedicated
website section and community leaders
and students alike appearing on the air to
speak about education and the levy.
Brooke Spectorsky, president and general
manager at WKYC, says such an active
advocacy role was new ground for the
station. “This was vital for the community,”
Spectorsky said of Issue 107. “We
pushed it on every data stream we have.”
WJW offers its own unique point of
view, including quarterly specials from
local comedian Mike Polk and a new weekly sports talk show. “We
are ‘Cleveland’s Own’,” says Greg Easterly,
WJW president and GM. “We hang our hat on
local newscasts and local personalities.”
Local TV owns Fox affiliate WJW. Gannett
has NBC station WKYC. Raycom has WOIOWUAB,
a CBS-MyNetworkTV pair, while
Scripps holds ABC outlet WEWS. Winston
Broadcasting has CW affiliate WBNX and Univision
owns WQHS. Time Warner Cable is the
big subscription TV operator in DMA No. 18.
The news race is ultracompetitive. WEWS
won the tight total-day household ratings race
in the November sweeps, while WJW took the
adults 25-54 competition. WJW wins morning
news easily and was tops at 5 p.m. and
in the 6 p.m. demo race. WEWS took the 6
p.m. household crown and rode a primetime
win to the 11 p.m. title with a 6.2 household
rating/11.9 share. (The Big Three network affiliates were nearly tied in the 25-54 demo at
11, with WOIO ahead by a sliver).
WKYC has a new news director in Brennan
Donnellan, hired from within after an extensive
search. “He knows Ohio and he’s been very involved
in everything we do,” says Spectorsky.
Russ Mitchell left CBS News last year to anchor
at WKYC. Spectorsky says Mitchell and
partner Kris Pickel give the station a pair of lead
talents who can thrive outside the studio. “It’s
nice to have an anchor who can get into the
community, is accepted by the community, and
knows how to work there,” he says.
WOIO grabbed Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!
from WEWS; last year, the station also picked
up star anchor Romona Robinson from WKYC.
Robinson is paired with Denisa Dufala at 6 and
11 p.m. VP/GM Bill Applegate says WOIO may
be the only major-market station with two female
anchors at 6 and 11. “They just really have
ignited everything,” he says.
WJW has a mammoth local block in the
morning: 4:30 to 10, then the talker New Day
Cleveland from 10 to 11. The station also airs a 7
p.m. newscast and extended weekend-morning
shows too. “Our company name is Local TV, and
we try to live it every day,” says Easterly. “It’s a
real simple formula: we are all about localism.”
WEWS VP/GM Sam Rosenwasser is on medical
leave; Steve Thaxton is interim GM. The station,
which claimed a prestigious Peabody award
last year, features Scripps’ homegrown shows The
List and Let’s Ask America from 7-8 p.m.
The Cleveland economy is struggling, local
TV executives speak of positive indicators,
such as the Horseshoe Casino that opened last
year and the trend of young adults moving into
downtown apartments. “There’s an awful lot of
development in the downtown area, centered
around the rental market,” Applegate says.
The four major stations have added Rentrak
to their research mix, yet continue to claw for
every Nielsen ratings point. “I do feel we are
hitting on all cylinders,” says Easterly, “but
we never take anything for granted. There are
good stations here.”