Cold, with a warm economy


The wind-chill factor can plunge the temperature in Fairbanks, Alaska, to -40 degrees. But, notes DeeDee Caciari, sales manager at NBC affil KTVF(TV), "it's a dry cold."

It's a market that runs hundreds of miles in every direction, as the dog sleds, with no single station's signal covering the entire DMA, but so much of the population is located around Fairbanks that even a Class A low-power like CBS affil K13XD can reach virtually all of it, practically tying sister station and full-power Fox affil KFXF(TV) in overall viewership.

Although most charts say population growth is flat, market veteran and KFXF/ K13XD GM J.P. Hoff insists it's growing. "We're No. 203 and climbing," he says, adding, "We used to be No. 205." The population may be small, but the oil-rich market has a lot of disposable income. Though only DMA 203, the market moves to 188 in revenue.

Clear Channel purchased the market-leading NBC affil while acquiring the Ackerley group. The Fairbanks News-Miner
purchased an option from Ackerley to buy the station should crossownership restrictions be lifted, but Clear Channel could buy that option.

Advertisers are typical, although, as in most small markets, the emphasis is on local. Automotive leads, but with more SUVs and trucks promoted than automobiles. Gary Sage, sales manager at Green TV-owned Pax affil KDMD-LP, notes that the University of Alaska Fairbanks helps the market gain in national profile, particularly in sports with its nationally ranked hockey team and its fall Tipoff Classic tournament drawing some of the nation's top college basketball teams.

Retailers like recent entry Home Depot, says Hoff, are surprised at how well they do in Fairbanks. The market is well off, with a major university, major tourism dollars, and a lot of military jobs. Hoff predicts that advertising will do well this year, with local, state and federal seats up for election.