Local TV

Star of the Lone Star State

Business booming, local shows launching in San Antonio 9/06/2010 02:20:00 AM Eastern

San Antonio’s New ‘Mobile’ News

What do the rookie newscasts on KENS and WOAI have in common, besides a rapid pace and high story count? Both programs will feature anchors up on their feet—and on the go.

“It’s faster-paced, with anchors on the move,” says KENS Executive News Director Kurt Davis of First at 4PM, which launched Aug. 2 and features anchors Deborah Knapp and Bill Taylor on the set.

WOAI Assistant News Director Mandy Johnston Mendoza says the 6:30 p.m. anchors, Randy Beamer and Elsa Ramon, will also burn a few calories during the show, which debuts Sept. 6. “The anchors rarely, if ever, sit down at the desk,” she says.

The moving-anchors motif is not a new one: WTVJ Miami, for one, was doing it more than a decade ago. Consultants say it’s popular in late afternoon, as viewers transition from the more open and fl uid nature of a talk show to the staid setup of early evening news. A few notes of caution: Walking while talking can be challenging at times, and the anchor has to have an actual destination on the set—a touch wall, another anchor—so as to avoid what TV insiders call the dreaded “walk to nowhere.”

“I think people are doing anything they can to make the news look and feel new,” says Crawford Johnson & Northcott Senior Communications Consultant Laura Hernandez, “and to make it more urgent and more relevant.”
Michael Malone

With summer coming to a close and the temperature slipping back to the
double digits, San Antonio stations are poised to launch new programs. KENS
kicked off a 4 p.m. newscast Aug. 2, while WOAI debuts a 6:30 p.m. show
Sept. 6. Yet leader KSAT is mostly sticking to its guns, outside of slotting
Nate Berkus in place of Rachael Ray, which goes to WOAI at 9 a.m. “There’s very little change here this year,” concedes VP/General
Manager Jim Joslyn.

There apparently doesn’t need to be. Consistency is
a hallmark at KSAT, an ABC affiliate owned by Post-
Newsweek. Joslyn has around 18 years at the station,
and News Director Jim Boyle has logged 26. Joslyn says
KSAT thrives by intently listening to viewers, whether it’s
via e-mailed comments or at community events, such as
station-hosted town halls. “The idea of getting into the
community to talk to viewers is a big part of our success,”
Joslyn says. “We know what they look like, and
how they think.”

The numbers prove Joslyn’s point. KSAT swept the
major races in May, with the top morning, early evening
and late news ratings, along with the primetime and total
day races. KSAT posted a 10.4 household rating/16 share
at 10 p.m.—topping CBS affiliate KENS’ 7.9 rating/12
share. (Belo’s KENS did win the 5 a.m. news contest.)
KSAT also won a close 2009 revenue race, its $37.9
million topping KENS’ $35.2 million, according to BIA/
Kelsey. Other players in San Antonio’s broadcast universe
include Sinclair’s Fox-MyNetworkTV duopoly KABB and
KMYS, Newport TV/High Plains Broadcasting’s NBC affiliate WOAI and Corridor TV’s CW affiliate KCWX.

San Antonio is also the nation’s eighth-largest Hispanic
market; 53.5% of the population is of Hispanic origin,
says BIA/Kelsey. Spanish-language options are vast; they
include Univision’s KWEX, Telemundo’s KVDA and Una
Vez Mas’ Azteca America outlet KVDF; KSAT airs LATV
on its digital channel. KWEX’s Noticias 41 crew delivers
strong ratings in evening and late news. Univision also
owns the TeleFutura outlet KNIC and six local radio
stations.

San Antonio’s major pay-TV operators are Time Warner
Cable and AT&T’s U-verse service.

While it holds the No. 37 DMA rank, San Antonio
is the No. 24 revenue market, reports BIA. Major employers
include insurance outfit USAA, the military (Fort
Sam Houston, Lackland Air Force Base and Randolph Air
Force Base are among the local installations), and Toyota.
The latter recently started production of its Tacoma truck
out of San Antonio, which added around a thousand jobs to the market. San Antonio has manufactured Toyota’s
full-size Tundra truck for several years.

“San Antonio has fared better than most cities,” says
KENS Executive News Director Kurt Davis. “There’s a lot
of construction going on—San Antonio is growing.”

Tourists choose San Antonio for a less expensive vacation
option and attractions such as the River Walk and
the historic Alamo. The diversity of the local economy,
and the stable job sources, keep the area insulated from
prolonged economic slumps. “I wouldn’t say the economy
is great, but it is good,” Joslyn says. “The market has
not been as vibrant, but it’s in awful good shape.”

The growth includes local TV. KENS has bumped Who
Wants to Be a Millionaire?
from the 4 p.m. slot for the
fledgling newscast, which Davis says has an even higher
story count than the newsroom’s usual rapid-fire output.
“We’re starting to see significant growth in household
ratings,” he points out. “It’s a high-energy newscast with
lots of local stuff. It’s what’s happening right now.”

WOAI’s 6:30 news will stick with the station’s advocacy
brand—callers to the station are greeted with WOAI’s
“Dedicated. Determined. Dependable.” tagline—and
feature a fast pace as well. “What sets us apart is the
advocacy role we take in the market,” says VP/General
Manager Jackie Rutledge, mentioning one recent investigative
series that prompted San Antonio’s public bus
system to outlaw text messaging among drivers.

Fox affiliate KABB, meanwhile, offers four hours of
news in the morning, along with an hour at 9 p.m. The
station provides news on the go with new iPhone and
Droid apps.

Much like the general managers at most Oprah Winfrey
stations, Joslyn is mum on what KSAT will do when
Oprah departs broadcast TV next year. “We don’t know
yet,” he says. “We’re looking at four or five different
things.”

Crime is a big issue in San Antonio, and the newsrooms
make an effort to keep it from dominating the
news rundown. “It’s an excellent news town,” Davis says.
“Unfortunately, the crime stories get a lot of attention, but
there’s always something going on in San Antonio.”

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

San Antonio’s New ‘Mobile’ News

What do the rookie newscasts on KENS and WOAI have in common, besides a rapid pace and high story count? Both programs will feature anchors up on their feet—and on the go.

“It’s faster-paced, with anchors on the move,” says KENS Executive News Director Kurt Davis of First at 4PM, which launched Aug. 2 and features anchors Deborah Knapp and Bill Taylor on the set.

WOAI Assistant News Director Mandy Johnston Mendoza says the 6:30 p.m. anchors, Randy Beamer and Elsa Ramon, will also burn a few calories during the show, which debuts Sept. 6. “The anchors rarely, if ever, sit down at the desk,” she says.

The moving-anchors motif is not a new one: WTVJ Miami, for one, was doing it more than a decade ago. Consultants say it’s popular in late afternoon, as viewers transition from the more open and fl uid nature of a talk show to the staid setup of early evening news. A few notes of caution: Walking while talking can be challenging at times, and the anchor has to have an actual destination on the set—a touch wall, another anchor—so as to avoid what TV insiders call the dreaded “walk to nowhere.”

“I think people are doing anything they can to make the news look and feel new,” says Crawford Johnson & Northcott Senior Communications Consultant Laura Hernandez, “and to make it more urgent and more relevant.”
Michael Malone

 

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