A trio of forces—Fort Gordon, The Medical College of Georgia, and the Savannah River Site—provides such support to the economy of Augusta, Ga., that the market's revenue rank (105) surpasses its DMA (115).
"It's such a healthy television market," says Phil Lane, general manager of ABC affiliate WJBF(TV), adding "It's been a tremendous year."
Joe Tonsing, general sales manager of CBS affil WRDW-TV, echoes the thought. "The number of advertisers is very important. Our numbers are up, our sales are up."
The economy's greatest support comes from Fort Gordon. "It's a large fort, and its impact in the city is great," remarks Tonsing.
Lane concurs. "It's a big boost to the local economy. Everybody knows how important the base is to the community."
With military bases being reviewed in 2005, the possibility of losing Fort Gordon causes justified concern for the citizens. Grassroots campaigns are under way to make sure it is spared.
"It is a major part of our economy," says John Mann, president and general manager of NBC affiliate WAGT(TV). "You can't lose 18,000 jobs and not have a significant impact on a DMA that has 241,000 total households."
Lane also notes the contribution of the Medical College of Georgia and the Savannah River Site, which produces and processes chemicals used in deep-space exploration and national defense programs.
Even the controversial Augusta National Golf Club provides financial support to the community, with money earned from the renowned Masters Golf tournament. In June, the club made a donation of $1.25 million to the Central Savannah River Area Community Foundation, which distributes the money to local charities.
The promise in the market proved palatable to Southeastern Media Holdings, whose purchase of WFXG(TV) from Fisher Broadcasting Co. is pending FCC approval.