All OK in Oprah Swap

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There aren't too many markets where a station replaces The Oprah Winfrey Show willingly, but, in Knoxville, Tenn., doing just that seems to be working for the station that lost her—and for the station that got her.

WBIR-TV, the Gannett station and news leader, dropped Oprah
in September and replaced it with the local Style: A Show for You
as the 4 p.m. lead-in to its Live at 5
soft newscast. No sooner had WBIR-TV whacked the show than it was picked up by Young Broadcasting's WATE-TV, which put it in the same time slot.

Although Knoxville hasn't received its November books yet, it's a newly metered Nielsen market so it can calculate the sweeps data. In households, WATE-TV says Oprah
scored a 5.2 rating but, as a lead-in to its 5 p.m. news, appears to have helped a lot. Last month, WATE-TV scored a 7.1 at 5 p.m., compared with just a 4 last year. "We're very happy with her at 4 p.m.," says General Manager Jane Wade.

But WBIR-TV President/General Manager Jeff Lee likes his decision too. His Style
captured a 4.8 rating in November (although it appeared to have hurt the 5 p.m. newscast.)

"Oprah
is still darned good, no doubt about it," Lee says. "But we made a long term decision to be as local as we can."

He says research told him that viewers at 4 were clicking away to cable and elsewhere, so his Style
is designed to present quick items on a pastiche of lifestyle, self-help, health, vacation and fashion pieces.

"Did I name something that hasn't been done before? No," Lee explains. "But we made it all local."

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