Market Eye: Springing New Shows On Viewers

Springfield, Mo., likes a little local flavor, and viewers love Schurz’s powerhouse ‘KY3’

Truly local programming plays big in Springfield, Mo. KOZL, the former Fox affiliate, airs a three-hour, locally produced block of hunting shows on Saturday nights, and three hours of local music programming, some of it country from nearby Branson, on Sunday nights. KCZ expanded its 9 p.m. news to an hour a year ago. Current Fox affiliate KRBK launched what it calls a “condensed” 9 p.m. news in April, and has non-news personalities combing the heartland market for slice-of-life stories.

Market leader KYTV, meanwhile, tackles high school sports on OzarksSportsZone.com.

Constantly going the extra mile separates good stations from great ones, believes Brian McDonough, KYTV president and general manager. “We constantly talk about the little things that make a difference,” McDonough says, such as explaining to viewers how a news story impacts their lives or adding a little more TLC to a commercial to make it more enticing. “We do the things that make it more special for viewers and users.”

Nearly three years ago, Nexstar’s KSFX became the independent “Ozarks Local” KOZL after losing the Fox affiliation, which went to Koplar Communications’ KRBK. Having a few World Series featuring the St. Louis Cardinals has helped viewers in DMA No. 75 find the new home of Fox. “We’ve had a lot of challenges and changes over the first three years,” says Paul Windisch, KRBK general manager, “but definitely feel we’re in a great place with positive momentum.”

KRBK airs local news from 9 to 9:10 p.m.—yes, 10 minutes—including a full weather forecast, followed by the MyNetworkTV schedule until 11.

Schurz owns NBC affiliate KYTV and lowpower CW affiliate KCZ and manages Perkin Media’s ABC affiliate KSPR through joint sales and shared services agreements. The stations keep “totally separate” news teams, says McDonough, but they do share content on what he calls “run-of-the-mill stories.”

Mission Broadcasting, closely aligned with Nexstar, owns CBS affiliate KOLR. Nexstar has KOZL, which this fall will become the local MyNetworkTV affiliate. “We’re pretty excited to add The Walking Dead to our lineup,” says Leo Henning, KOZL VP and general manager. “It’s not that familiar to [Springfield] viewers—it’s almost like first-run.”

Mediacom is Springfield’s primary subscription TV operator.

KYTV won total-day ratings in the May sweeps, along with all the major news races. It posted a stunning 43.5 share at 5 p.m. and grew it to a 46 share at 6. Known as “KY3,” the station won 10 p.m. news with a whopping 13.8 rating/34.8 share, ahead of KOLR’s 5.8/14.6. KYTV dominated adults 25-54 ratings, too. “I’m constantly in awe of what we are able to accomplish,” says McDonough.

KYTV is also seeking to dominate the local Web world—not just on KY3.com, but with targeted sites dedicated to vehicle sales, obituaries, daily deals and sports.

A compelling battle is also breaking out on the multicast front. KSPR simulcasts The CW on its dot-two and Antenna TV on its dot-three. KYTV has Cozi TV and WeatherNation on its subchannels. In January, KRBK debuted Me- TV Ozarks on its dot-two; Windisch says “the response has been absolutely incredible.”

Springfield’s economy is bolstered by universities and hospitals. The market is just No. 92 in terms of revenue, says BIA/Kelsey, but low unemployment has locals optimistic.

Henning calls it “a different world” since Nexstar and Fox split up in Springfield, but he’s getting a kick out of programming an independent station with local shows featuring bow hunting, bluegrass and cheesy horror movies. “I’m old enough to remember when local TV was all about this,” he says. “It’s a kick to be able to do that kind of programming.”

WHAT’S WORKING IN SPRINGFIELD: BACK FROM THE WAR, BACK AT THE ANCHOR DESK

Former KYTV anchor Jerry Jacob says he “felt compelled” to join the military after Sept. 11, but it was five years later that the U.S. Army raised its maximum age for enlistment. That allowed Jacob, then 41, to serve. A medic, Jacob spent five years overseas, including time in Afghanistan and Iraq. Upon returning to Springfield in 2011, he didn’t want to displace any KYTV anchors, so he became a reporter.

Jacob had a hard time being out in the field, dealing with people who wanted to discuss his combat experience. “It was the last thing I wanted to talk about,” he says. When KSPR anchor Joe Daues joined the sales department at sister KYTV earlier this year, Jacob slid into the KSPR anchor job at 4, 6 and 10 p.m.

“He’s really helped out over there,” says KYTV GM Brian McDonough. “It’s hard to compete against KY3, but Jerry has really helped.”