Rochester, N.Y., has redefined itself. Kodak and Xerox used to be the
centerpieces of its economy, but with manufacturing jobs dwindling, “small
businesses and universities are stepping up,” says Marc Jaromin, VP and GM of
Nexstar Broadcasting's CBS affiliate WROC.
Local broadcasters have also survived Rochester's business
As a solidly blue state, New York didn't get a big infusion of
political monies, but station execs project that Rochester's advertising
market will finish 2004 up slightly from 2003.
“No matter what you do to Rochester, the market always ends up two or
three percentage points,” says Jaromin, adding that late-fourth-quarter
retail spending is helping this year. For example, Kohl's department store
has opened several stores in the market, prompting competitors like Bon Ton to
buy ad time.
“We perform better than our market size,” says Arnold Klinsky, VP
and GM of WHEC, the Hubbard Broadcasting-owned NBC affiliate. Indeed, while
Rochester is the 75th-largest DMA, it ranks 65th in TV revenue. Rochester
stations, which also include Sinclair Broadcasting's Fox affiliate WUHF and
Clear Channel's ABC affiliate WOKR, will take in an estimated $73.2 million
in revenue this year, according to BIA Financial Network.
Among local broadcasters, the news race is heating up. All four network
affiliates offer news. While WOKR is typically the highest-rated, its rivals
are close on its heels; WHEC and WROC are within a rating point or two.
WOKR is about to undergo a call-letter change. Clear Channel owns a
news-and-talk AM station in the market called WHAM and, come January, will
relaunch WOKR as WHAM-TV. “We have been working closely with them,” says
Kent Beckwith, VP and GM of WOKR, “and it makes a lot of sense to be
Time Warner Cable is the market's dominant cable operator. It runs R
News, a 24-hour regional news channel piped into about 300,000 cable homes in
11 area counties.
Jaromin is optimistic about the future, since Rochester survived the
seismic shift from a manufacturing to a niche economy. Although big
corporations are still key, companies with 150-250 staffers now play a
prominent role. And area universities, led by the University of Rochester, have
emerged as research hubs and major employers. Says Jaromin, “There seems to
be light at the end of the tunnel.”