Market Eye: Hooked on Phoenix

Stations in Arizona’s capital compete wholeheartedly, but know when to work together

Why This Matters

What’s Working in Phoenix


Market-leader KSAZ thrives on its different approach, and one characteristic bit is “The Buzz”—a 90-second segment in the 9 p.m. news that Mark Rodman, VP and general manager, calls “the lightning round”—a trio of timely topics, broken down and debated in fast fashion by anchors John Hook and Kari Lake. Rodman says segments such as The Buzz, which tends to focus on lighter topics such as pop culture and social media trends more than hard news, give the primetime newscast a fresher feel. The news of the day is no longer new at 9, he says: “What we do is enhance and supplement it.”

The Buzz segments, which debuted last December, showcase the personalities of KSAZ’s anchors. “They’re very personable and have great chemistry,” says Rodman. “Our talent is our unique selling proposition.” —MM | @BCMikeMalone

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Phoenix and other Sun Belt markets bore the brunt of the recession, but
that’s behind them. Home sales were up nearly 13% in May compared to May 2012, while unemployment slid from
7.4% to 6.8%. The attributes that spurred
population growth in Phoenix for years—the
proverbial “dry heat,” the Southwest’s open
spaces—remain. “We’re not there yet, but the
economy feels quite a bit better compared to
even a year ago,” says Ed Munson, KPHO VP
and general manager.

Phoenix features a bruising news battle, but
the stations know when to, as one GM puts
it, “put our weapons down.” DMA No. 13
was devastated by the loss of 19 wildfire specialists
June 30; the stations pooled coverage
for what John Misner, KPNX president and
general manager, called a “muted presence”
at the memorial. KPNX aired the Prescott
fireworks show and firefighter tribute live in
primetime on July 4. “I never doubted that
our company [Gannett] would support the investment,”
says Misner.

Gannett is acquiring Belo. Jack Sander will
run the Belo station pair in Phoenix, independent
of Gannett’s NBC affiliate KPNX, which
has its own partner in its sibling Arizona
newspaper. KPNX is using more still
photography in its newscasts, which Misner
says makes for a “compelling” look.

Among English-language stations, KSAZ and
KNXV tied in the morning news household ratings
race in the May sweeps, while KSAZ took
the 25-54 demo. KSAZ won 5 p.m. and KNXV
won 6. KSAZ was tops in 9 p.m. news, while
KPNX grabbed 10 p.m. with a 3.7 HH rating/8
share, just ahead of KPHO’s 3.6. KPNX’s Misner
called the July sweeps a “dream.”

Fox-owned KSAZ brought in an estimated
$82.5 million in revenue last year, according
to BIA/Kelsey, ahead of KPNX’s $62.5 million.
KSAZ is a test bed for daytime shows, including
Bethenny last year and The Real and Kris
Jenner’s new talker Kris more recently. “I like
to think we’re one of the go-to stations in the
group,” says Mark Rodman, KSAZ VP and GM.
“A lot of different [shows] gain traction here.”

KSAZ thrives on a tenured news talent
crew. “They’re known in the market, they’re
credible and people are comfortable with
them,” says Rodman.

Fox also has MyNetworkTV station KUTP.
Cox is the primary subscription TV offering.
The Spanish-language stations include Telemundo
O&O KTAZ and Univision’s KTVWKFPH
pair; Univision is integrating its radio
properties into the TV facility in Phoenix.
Airing thriving 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. newscasts,
KTVW plays up its “empowerment initiatives,”
which include education and health,
in its local programming. “Those are the key
to what we do,” says Roberto Yanez, KTVWKFPH
VP/GM. “They’re the driving force behind
how we out-deliver the market.”

Univision Phoenix on Aug. 3 hosted Es El
Momento (It’s the Moment), an education fair
that attracted 5,000 visitors.

Stations are shaping their fall schedules.
KPNX is expanding Arizona Midday to 90 minutes.
KPHO will have Steve Harvey at 4 p.m.

Whether it’s immigration, gun control or
other hot issues, Phoenix frequently ends up
in the center of the national debate. Says Rodman:
“We’re always in the thick of it.”