Market Eye: It’s (Mostly) Sunny In San Diego

Micro-climates can bedevil local meteorologists, but Raquel Welch was up for the challenge

The stereotype about Southern California weather forecasting is that anyone can do it; when it’s 75 and gloriously sunny every day, who needs a seasoned meteorologist? But weather is more complicated in San Diego, where it may be 75 and sunny at the beach, but much different inland, in the mountains, in the desert. Add some wildfires, and the market’s meteorologists deserve more than just sun pay.

“It could be a 30-degree swing in temperature, depending on where you are in the DMA,” says Pat Nevin, KFMB VP and general manager.

KFMB gets weather, and everything else, it seems, right in DMA No. 28. The station is a ratings monster and deserves to toot its horn as the CBS affiliate celebrates its 65th anniversary. Later this month there will be a 30-minute special looking at KFMB over the years—including on-air appearances from young talent Raquel Welch and Regis Philbin. “There’s a lot of history here,” says Nevin, who also oversees a pair of radio stations. “It’s a great story.”

The competition is not sitting by. NBC-owned KNSD is moving into a new facility outside the downtown area. That will mean better access to major thoroughfares, more parking for employees and significantly upgraded technology. “It’s a chance to build from the ground up,” says Richard Kelley, president/GM. “It will be a vast improvement over our current facility.” KNSD is looking at fall 2016 for the full move-in.

With parent Comcast’s backing, KNSD has tacked on 9½ hours of news per week over the past two years, including 4:30 and 11 a.m., 6:30 p.m. and weekend mornings. “It gives us the capability to be news-ready from sunrise to sunset and beyond,” says Kelley.

XETV is eyeing a few slots, including weekends, with The CW affiliate’s news operation currently dark from late mornings until 10 p.m. “Any expansion would bridge that period,” says Chuck Dunning, VP and general manager.

Midwest Television owns KFMB. Scripps has ABC affiliate KGTV, which will add Scripps access shows Let’s Ask America and The List this fall. But KGTV is sticking with local news at 7 p.m. “It’s nice to have one time period to myself,” says Jeff Block, VP and divisional GM.

Tribune owns Fox affiliate KSWB, which is looking at adding midday and early evening newscasts. Scott Heath, general sales manager, recently was named VP/station manager, while Don Corsini, KTLA Los Angeles GM, has oversight. Grupo Televisa has XETV. Texas Television owns independent KUSI, which recently debuted 5 p.m. news. Televisora has MyNetwork- TV station XDTV. On the Spanish-language side, Entravision owns KBNT and XHAS. Cox is the major subscription TV operator.

KFMB, which introduced a new set in early August, ran the table in the May sweeps, with KNSD and KGTV divvying up second-place finishes. KFMB posted a 4.1 household rating/ 11.3 share at 11 p.m., while KGTV had a 2.8/7.7. KUSI was tops at 10 with a 2.7/5.1.

Nevin credits new creative services director Mike Stewart with turning stellar content into even better ratings. “He’s done a phenomenal job making sure we’re targeted and our brand is consistent,” says the GM.

While BIA/Kelsey has San Diego as No. 21 in station revenue, managers describe the local business climate as just all right. Political spending will take flight, however, in the fall. “The market’s not on fire, but it seems to be moving along at an OK pace,” says Kelley.

While the market is competitive, San Diego’s laid-back vibe permeates. Station promos play up their individual strengths, not opponents’ weaknesses. Says Dunning: “There’s a lot of healthy respect among stations for each other.”

WHAT’S WORKING IN SAN DIEGO

LOCAL OWNERSHIP PAYS OFF FOR KFMB

If ever a company was attractive in this era of station consolidation, it’s Midwest Television. With CBS affiliate KFMB, an AM talk radio station and a Jack FM outlet, all in San Diego, Midwest (the name is a holdover to when it had stations in the heartland) is owned by the Kimmel family. President Elisabeth Kimmel admits it’s “definitely challenging” to compete for syndicated shows and to negotiate affiliation terms, but notes the group can move quickly on a programming or talent decision. “If something is available, we don’t have to move it up the pipeline,” says Kimmel. “We can make the decision right here.”

Kimmel says she has fielded “quite a few” calls from would-be buyers, but she feels KFMB and San Diego are better off with Midwest. “We enjoy serving the community,” she says, “and think we do it better as a locally owned station.”