Market Eye: It's Noisy in Boise

Affiliation switch in Treasure Valley sparks game of musical chairs

Why This Matters

What's Working In Boise

There is no summer vacation for KTRV as it completes its shift to an independent. Faced with becoming a syndication jukebox or a lively local news outfit, the station opted for the latter and added six staffers. In September, KTRV will tack another hour onto its twohour morning block; later this year, the station will launch a half-hour morning program that Ricky Joseph, president and general manager, calls a “news magazine show that focuses on business and the community.” An early evening newscast is scheduled to bow in January.

Operating without a network affiliation is a tall chore, but Joseph says the KTRV staff has been energized by independence. He is using the few successful independent stations around the U.S., such as WJXT Jacksonville, as a model. “We hope to emulate and take everything we can from them,” Joseph says, “and be one of the best indies in the country.” —MM

Click here to read more Market Eye articles

On Sept. 1, Fox will have a new home in Boise, Idaho. Fox and
KTRV parted ways over terms of affiliation, prompting the
broadcaster to partner with current CW outlet KNIN. KTRV announced its intention to be a full-on independent
not long after the “doomsday letter,”
as President/General Manager Ricky Joseph
describes it, landed at the station.

Owned by Block Communications, KTRV
is adding staff—and news. “We
look at it as a tremendous opportunity to be
entrepreneurial,” says Joseph. “We really have
the opportunity to be what’s on our license:
Idaho Independent Television.”

Journal owns KNIN and ABC affiliate KIVI. Jim Thomas, Journal VP
of marketing and programming, says
KNIN is talking up the switch with
a campaign that involves sister radio
stations, street teams and billboards.
“The ubiquitous way is the best way to
do something like this,” Thomas says.

The shakeup affects all players in
DMA No. 113. Journal is adding more than a
dozen staffers. Fisher’s KBOI, a CBS affiliate, will
slot the CW on its subchannel Sept. 12 in place
of RTV, and will have The Daily Buzz at 7 a.m.
and news at 9 p.m. “It adds a new wrinkle,” says
Eric Jordan, KBOI general manager. “We’ll have
three big affiliates and an independent producing
news. It’s gonna make it very competitive.”

KTVB is non-plussed, and has good reason to
be. Belo’s NBC affiliate grabbed more than 45%
of the market’s TV revenue last year, according
to BIA/Kelsey, and Doug Armstrong, president/
GM, says the station overindexes the net by at
least 40%. KTVB won total-day ratings by a mile
in the May sweeps and took all the major news
races (including a 15 household rating/39 share
at 10 p.m.); it trailed KBOI in primetime.

“They’re the big dog in the market…the
600-pound gorilla,” KBOI’s Jordan says of KTVB.

Confusion brought on by the switcheroo
may even help KTVB. “It’s just a game of musical
chairs—nothing new is being created,”
Armstrong says. “I’ve seen all of the research on
affiliation switches, and the stations that don’t
switch tend to rise in ratings in the short term.”

Armstrong mentions continuity, quality and
legacy when discussing KTVB’s sovereignty.
The station has had just three general managers
in 58 years, four news directors in 26
years and extraordinary tenure at the anchor
desk, Armstrong says. “We have more of everything—
people and equipment,” he adds.

Cable One is the major cable operator, but
Boise is a huge satellite TV market.

Boise has been through a crunching economic
cold snap. The stations booked $40.5 million in
2007, per BIA, but just $29.9 million last year.
Massive construction projects mirroring major
population growth, similar to what happened
in Las Vegas, ground to a halt. “It’s almost like
everybody stopped building,” says Jordan.

Amidst the musical chairs, stations are
fighting hard to get ahead. KTVB has
new 7 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. newscasts on
its “24/7” digital channel. KBOI saw news
ratings jump following a rebranding last
year when it returned to its original call
letters after a 35-year run as KBCI.
The station is also broadcasting out
in the community more than ever. “It
shows we’re involved and that really
resonates with people,” says Jordan.

On Sept. 19, KTRV will launch
double runs of 30 Rock at 8 p.m.,
followed by Law and Order: Criminal
Intent at 9. Joseph says the station is
looking for 70-75% of the ad rates it got when
Fox’s standout primetime shows aired. “We appear
to be close to that,” he says.

Shakeup or not, Boise is a KTVB market.
“Generations have grown up knowing KTVB
is No. 1,” says Armstrong, “and they pass it on
to their kids and grandkids.”

E-mail comments to
and follow him on Twitter: @StationBiz