'What's Working' In Toledo--And In Your Market

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B&C has launched a mini-feature in our new issue this week, something on the bottom of the “Market Eye” page called “What’s Working in [fill in name of market being profile that week].” The idea is to spotlight a handful of innovative local initiatives that are paying dividends–in the form of revenue, ratings, or viewer goodwill–for stations.

You can see the first edition, part of the Los Angeles market profile, here.  We spoke to KABC Los Angeles President/General Manager Arnie Kleiner about ABC7 Listens, which sees he and some other station brass venture into various corners of the #2 market to chat with viewers, see what they think of what’s on KABC, and see what they’d like to see on KABC in the future.

Kleiner says ABC Listens is a great source of goodwill–and story tips. “We’ve gotten a tremendous amount of news stories out of it,” Kleiner says. “Stories that don’t come off the police radio and that the competition doesn’t have.”

Speaking of successful viewer feedback initiatives at ABC-owned stations, WTVG Toledo has an interesting thing going on this Wednesday. The station is operating a phone bank for its “Get Connected” initiative, where station staffers, including the news director and on-air talent, operate phones and hear from viewers about what they want to see coming out of WTVG.

News Director Brian Trauring says WTVG has been doing “Get Connected” since 2008, with three or four phone banks a year. Each one elicits hundreds of calls, he says, with the feedback sorted into complaints, compliments, suggestions and story idea, and reviewed carefully by station management.

WTVG tells viewers they can call about whatever may be on their mind. “We try to keep it somewhat general on purpose,” says Trauring. “We don’t want to prime the pump with preconceived notions.”

One regular segment, called “The Bright Side” and focusing on positive stories in and around Toledo, was completely hatched out of Get Connected.

The phone bank will run from 5 pm to 6:30 Wednesday, with a constant crawl as well as hits in local news reminding viewers that the phone lines are open. It’s mostly talent answering the phones, says Trauring, as that seems to elicit the biggest response from viewers.  “People have plenty of opinions,” he says. “When they’re given the opportunity, they really like that–finally the floodgates open.”

Trauring says the Get Connected mission is a simple one: Help WTVG “build a better television station.”

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