MARKET EYE: KANSAS CITY
RECENT NEWS STORIES: Three tornadoes hit the Kansas City area last summer, with the most powerful touching down in suburban Lee’s Summit, Mo.; two firefighters were killed after a burning building collapsed in October; the Royals won the World Series in 2015 after reaching the 2014 Fall Classic in a surprise run; the Chiefs advanced to the divisional round of the NFL playoffs.
STATIONS (OWNER/AFFILIATION): KMBC (Hearst/ABC), WDAF (Tribune/Fox), KSHB (Scripps/NBC), KCTV (Meredith/CBS)
OWNER/AFFILIATION CHANGES: Tribune Broadcasting in late 2013 completed its acquisition of Local TV Holdings, including WDAF.
WHAT’S NEW: The station has added more TVUPacks and continued to upgrade its weather system.
WHO THEY ARE: Sarah Smith, president and general manager, is especially proud of the station’s weather coverage. “The single most important thing we do is keep viewers safe,” she says. KMBC prides itself on serving its viewers. “We see ourselves as public servants. It’s great motivation to keep working on their behalf.”
AWARDS: 2015 Edward R. Murrow Award for breaking news coverage of the unrest in Ferguson, Mo. Six Mid-America Emmy Awards, including best evening newscast.
BALLS & STRIKES: During the Royals’ title run, KMBC had pregame shows whenever the team was in town and postgame shows after every game. The station, which carried and streamed pep rallies and the championship parade, drew swarms of people who wanted to take a picture in its Game of Thrones-inspired “Royalty Throne,” made from Louisville Slugger bats.
WHAT’S NEW: WDAF updated its news and weather apps, allowing users to set their location and customize alerts for particular stories, national weather warnings and lightning. New technology also lets the station send breaking news reports with a one-button push.
WHO THEY ARE: The station has numerous community initiatives, including the year-round mental health awareness campaign “You Matter” and a musical instrument donation program for schools.
BALLS & STRIKES: The station added newscasts at 4 p.m. plus half-hour specials “Road to Gold” for the Royals’ World Series run.
WHAT’S NEW: KSHB added another hour of morning news and expanded its evening news from 30 minutes to an hour. It also increased morning news at sister station KMCI from 7-8 a.m.
WHAT’S ON: The Emmy-winning Kansas City Live, which includes features on restaurants and interviews with stars coming through town, airs from 10-11 a.m. every day with a repeat performance from 2-3 p.m. on KMCI and the occasional primetime broadcast.
WHO THEY ARE: Sister station KMCI—which positions itself as sports, courts and comedy—is the home of MLS soccer club Sporting Kansas City. In the mornings, KMCI simulcasts a leading sports radio show from 6-7 a.m., followed by an hour of news.
AWARDS: Twelve Mid-America Emmy Awards, including one for news excellence for the second year in a row.
BALLS & STRIKES: The station has a weather partnership with the Royals, serving as their official meteorologist.
WHAT’S NEW: Ellen McNamara joined the station as an anchor last April, while Rob Finnerty came on board as a morning anchor and Better Kansas City host in October. Mike Cukyne took over as VP and general manager in January 2015.
WHO THEY ARE: Over the last two months, KCTV talent has gone to random places throughout the market to do good deeds. This “Surprise Squad” might buy gas for someone, order food for a person behind them in the drive-thru or work the counter at Starbucks. Cukyne says it’s about paying it forward. “It speaks to our brand; if we’re going to stand for Kansas City and be Kansas City’s TV station, then we have to live it,” Cukyne says. “We have to be consistent in what we do and have to ultimately be what we say we are.”
KCTV has heightened its focus on investigative stories. The Meredith station brought on Angie Ricono to lead its new investigative wing and has built up a full-fledged bureau over the last few months. Market research studies have shown that what viewers remember most about KCTV are the station’s investigative pieces, says Mike Cukyne, VP and general manager.
One recent report explored an apartment complex that raised the rent for its residents, most of whom are on fixed incomes. After KCTV aired the results of its investigation, a local family donated money to help one of the families in the complex offset the price hike.
“The good thing about our investigation unit is, because of what we’re doing and what we’re standing for, it isn’t us standing in the weeds and jumping out,” Cukyne says.
Cukyne, who joined KCTV a little over a year ago, has put the emphasis on his staff and the station’s brand. “We’ve got the best [call] letters in the business,” he says. “Everything we do, we make sure we filter through that brand. More advocacy for Kansas City.”