Needs a Tune-Up

Why This Matters

Sunrise Slugfest

Sunrise Slugfest

Toledo’s top two stations are locked in an early-morning battle. In February, CBS affiliate WTOL, the leader in evening and late news, backed up its morning newscast a half-hour to 5 a.m., the time its rival, ABC station WTVG, signs on. While WTOL wins early-evening and late news, morning victories have been more elusive. So WTOL tapped veteran anchors Jerry Anderson and Melissa Voetsch to take over mornings; Anderson continues to host the 5 p.m. news as well. The station also added staff.

In Toledo, as it is elsewhere, “for many viewers, morning news has become their new prime time,” says WTOL VP/GM Bob Chirdon.

WTVG dominates mornings; it posted an average 5.2 rating/40 share in February, compared with WTOL’s 3.9/29. (Third-placed WNWO averaged a 1.2/8.)

Despite WTOL’s challenge, says WTVG President/GM David Zamichow, “Our ratings went up in the February book.”.

The Demos
*Index is a measurement of consumer likelihood. An index of 100 indicates that the market is on par with the average of the 75 local markets.
Source: Scarborough Release 2004 75 Markets Report
WhoShare of populationIndex*


Sunrise Slugfest

While Toledo, Ohio, is not as obviously tied to the auto industry as neighboring Detroit, cars do steer the economy in the Nielsen’s 70th largest market. But car sales are slowing, affecting jobs at the local Jeep and General Motors plants, as well as automobile advertising on TV. Larger TV markets are experiencing similar challenges with auto advertising, but midsize cities like Toledo, with smaller advertising bases and less national-ad money, have been harder hit.

TV stations are coming off a lucrative 2004, when $10 million in political-ad money poured in. Last year, local broadcasters collected $61.7 million in gross revenue, according to BIA Financial. This year, stations don’t have that election-year money, times are tight, and TV advertising is feeling the fallout. “Everyone is looking for other streams of revenue, like the Internet,” says Ray Maselli, VP/GM of Fox affiliate WUPW.

CBS affiliate WTOL is No. 1 in total day and in early-evening and late news. It also has the best syndicated fare.

Last year, WUPW added a 4 p.m. newscast, the only one in that time slot. But it is up against tough competition: WTOL runs The Oprah Winfrey Show, and ABC O&O WTVG airs Ellen.

WTVG recently added a half-hour of news at 11:30 a.m. on Sundays. The newscast follows This Week With George Stephanopoulos and WTVG’s Carty & Company, the station’s public-affairs program. “The time period seemed ripe,” says President/GM David Zamichow, “and we already had a crew on hand.”

In tornado-prone Northwest Ohio, NBC affiliate WNWO calls itself “Toledo’s weather station” and begins each newscast with the local forecast. Last month on one of its digital channels, WNWO debuted its version of 24/7 weather service NBC Weather Plus. In June, new music-video channel The Tube will debut on another digital channel. Buckeye Cable, the market’s major operator, offers Weather Plus as part of its digital-cable package and is considering adding The Tube.

The local WB affiliate WTO5 is a cable-only outlet available to 11 of the market’s 13 counties. The UPN affiliate WNGT is a low-power UHF station.

Toledo is still a diary market, making sweeps even more important. But weather may be the spoiler. The region is enjoying a mild May, and warmer weather draws viewers outdoors. Says WNWO VP/GM Rick Lipps, “From a ratings perspective, we could use some of those dreary, cold, sit-by-the-TV days.”