‘Orange’ Crush

Syracuse biz picks up after cold snap
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Syracuse is best known for its long white winters, namesake university and the school’s elite basketball squad. But general managers say there’s much more to DMA No. 83 than snow and hoops. “There’s a lot of great opportunity to enjoy the outdoors,” says Barrington Syracuse President/CEO Chris Geiger, “with the Finger Lakes, golf courses, the Adirondacks.”

But the favorable temps can be fleeting, and foul weather is a huge news driver in Syracuse. Newport TV’s WSYR disseminates breaking news on a new iPhone app. “With six months of winter, there are lots of school closings to report,” says WSYR VP/ General Manager Theresa Underwood.

WSYR is the market leader, thanks in part to one of the nation’s longest-running anchor teams in Carrie Lazarus and Rod Wood. Underwood says the ABC affiliate punches well above its weight. “Our news product stands up to any news product in the nation,” she says. “That includes Top 10 markets.”

WSYR won the morning, evening and late news races in November—its 5.0 household rating/21.4 share at 11 p.m. topping WTVH’s 2.0/8.5. WTVH won prime.

WSYR took in $15.33 million in 2008, according to BIA/Kelsey, besting NBC affi liate WSTM’s $14 million. WSTM is part of the Barrington Syracuse operation that came to be when Barrington and Granite combined resources, moving Granite’s WTVH crew into WSTM headquarters after a significant downsizing last March. (Various reports say 40 to 50 WTVH employees were let go; Geiger did not provide a number.) Barrington’s WSTM, CW outlet WSTQ and a digital weather channel now share facilities with CBS outlet WTVH.

The stations feed a lone Web outlet at CNYCentral.com, but keep distinct onair brands under separate managing editors. “They’re legacy brands,” Geiger says. “We want to protect those going forward.” WSTM and WTVH air the same morning and noon news programs, but Geiger says that will change.

Rounding out the market are Sinclair’s Fox outlet WSYT, which manages RKM Media’s MyNetworkTV affiliate WNYS. Time Warner Cable has News 10 Now, which will adopt the YNN (Your News Now) brand on March 15.

News 10 Now snagged a major exclusive when Jiverly Wong, who killed 13 people in April 2009 at a Binghamton immigration center before taking his own life, sent a letter to the channel on the day of the shootings that attempted to explain his actions.

Steve Paulus, who oversees News 10 Now from New York City, says the channel enjoys a high local profile. “It’s omnipresent,” Paulus says. “The brand recognition is huge.”

Syracuse University’s “Orange” basketball squad enjoys major brand recognition, too, in the region. Big wins this year, including over rival Georgetown, have put it among the nation’s elite. “There’s a lot of excitement every winter,” Underwood says, “but this year in particular."