Local TV

Market Eye: Tulsa Stations Turn Up the Heat

Boomtown market features new owner, new building and new talent 3/04/2013 12:01:00 AM Eastern

What’s Working in Tulsa

Griffin’s new broadcast facility has the KOTV-KQCW staff psyched. It’s hard to find someone to say something nice about the old space, a 24,000 squarefoot building east of downtown that Rob Krier, Griffin COO, called a “horrible building.” The new Griffin Communications Media Center measures 57,000 square feet and its downtown location—in the eclectic Brady Arts District—makes it easier to entice community leaders and performers to pop in for an interview.

“We strongly believe that a TV station should be in the heart of the community it serves,” said David Griffin, Griffin chairman and CEO, when construction began.

The building houses Griffin’s graphics hub, and grounds have room for the KOTV helicopter, which used to be parked offsite. Staffers say they like being located in a lively urban environment. “There’s a very energetic vibe,” said Houston Hunt, Griffin VP of marketing. —MM

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KOTV has long ruled the ratings roost in Tulsa, Okla., but a shake-up
in the landscape has injected some excitement into the race. Cox Media
Group last December acquired KOKI and KMYT from Newport Television,
part of a $302 million deal. A longtime radio operator in the Tulsa market, Cox now pairs its two TV stations with five radio stations
and Tulsa’s main cable system as well.

Holly Allen, VP/general manager at Cox’s Fox-
MyNetworkTV duopoly, says it’s a rare case of broadcast,
cable and radio under one umbrella in a market.
“The upside is tremendous in terms of the opportunity
to collaborate,” Allen says.

The acquisition means KOTV’s current relationship
with the local Cox radio outlets ends later this year, but
the Griffin Communications-owned station has a few
tricks up its sleeve. The CBS affiliate recently moved
into a state-of-the-art facility that blows away the leaky
old “dump,” in Griffin COO Rob Krier’s words. Morale is high at KOTV and sister CW station
KQCW. “We’ve always been very proud of the product
we put out every day,” says Houston Hunt, Griffin VP
of marketing. “But now there’s a lot of pride of place.”

Krier oversees the Tulsa duopoly from Griffin headquarters
90 miles away in Oklahoma City; having separate
general managers at its stations in Tulsa and Oklahoma
City (KWTV) might stand in the way of them
working together to best cover the state, Krier says.

Allbritton has Tulsa ABC affiliate
KTUL and Scripps holds NBC outlet
KJRH. Local independents KWHB
and KGEB specialize in religion.
LeSea’s KWHB adds family-friendly
syndicated shows and hunting and fishing to the faith content. “You put
it all together, and it’s perfect for the
Tulsa market,” says KWHB general
manager Dan Smith.

KTUL has overhauled its anchor
team following a series of retirements. One key hire is
Jennifer Zeppelin, formerly of KCNC Denver, as chief
meteorologist. Pat Baldwin, KTUL president and general
manager, believes Zeppelin is the first female chief meteorologist
in Oklahoma TV. “Female [talent] always seems
to outshine the men” throughout the market, he says.

Baldwin is also pumped to have Wheel of Fortune and
Jeopardy!, which KJRH grabbed in 2004 but gave up
last September to launch Scripps’ homegrown access
shows. “It was a huge difference in February,” Baldwin
says of the just-completed sweeps month.

KOTV ran the table in the November sweeps, winning
total-day ratings along with primetime, morning,
early evening and late news, where its 12.2 household/
20.3 rating at 10 p.m. bested KTUL’s 5.1/8.6.
KOTV thrives on being locally owned with a combined
86 years in the market among its frontline four talent,
says Krier. “When you have good people and keep
them, that’s what happens,” he adds.

KOTV also enjoys the only news helicopter in the
market, and is the rare CBS affiliate that is local from
7-8 a.m. KQCW plans to expand its 9 p.m. news to an
hour later this year.

Tulsa is in strong economic shape. While it’s Nielsen’s
No. 59 DMA, it ranks an impressive 55th in revenue,
thanks to a booming energy business. Tulsa also has
a lively music scene, with the BOK Center attracting
national acts, and various casinos offering substantial
venues too. “We’re just booming as a music market,”
says Baldwin. (His new chief meteorologist doesn’t
boast of a rock ’n’ roll past; Jennifer Zeppelin’s bio
clarifies: “It’s her real last name, and she isn’t related to
the rock band.”)

The Bassmaster Classic fishing tournament brought
thousands to the market Feb. 22-24 and gave the stations
a fun story to cover. “We feel very optimistic about
the market,” says Griffin’s Hunt. “We remain committed
to serving Tulsa, and our ratings show that.”

E-mail comments to mmalone@nbmedia.com
and follow him on Twitter: @BCMikeMalone

What’s Working in Tulsa

Griffin’s new broadcast facility has the KOTV-KQCW staff psyched. It’s hard to find someone to say something nice about the old space, a 24,000 squarefoot building east of downtown that Rob Krier, Griffin COO, called a “horrible building.” The new Griffin Communications Media Center measures 57,000 square feet and its downtown location—in the eclectic Brady Arts District—makes it easier to entice community leaders and performers to pop in for an interview.

“We strongly believe that a TV station should be in the heart of the community it serves,” said David Griffin, Griffin chairman and CEO, when construction began.

The building houses Griffin’s graphics hub, and grounds have room for the KOTV helicopter, which used to be parked offsite. Staffers say they like being located in a lively urban environment. “There’s a very energetic vibe,” said Houston Hunt, Griffin VP of marketing. —MM

 

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