Station Break

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Purchasing Power

Denver—With only nine electoral votes, Colorado is frequently ignored by ad buyers for presidential candidates. Not this year. Democrat John Kerry has dropped an estimated $700,000 into the coffers of Denver TV stations during May, and President Bush has stepped up his spot buys as well.

"Political spending is happening in this market a lot earlier than we thought," says Jim Zerwekh, general manager at Tribune's WB station, KWGN.

The reason? Consider the targets. The Kerry campaign has made a couple of tactical demographic buys, running spots in The WB programs like Everwood, Gilmore Girls, and 7th Heaven. "That shows he's going for a younger audience," says Zerwekh, "which is a pretty smart move."

Phoning in the News

Seattle—Proving that a telephone can be a reporter's best friend, KING's Jim Forman used his camera-enabled cellphone to transmit first pictures from a breaking news story, beating his station's live truck to the scene by 15 minutes.

The story, which broke just as KING's evening newscast kicked off, involved a search for a missing child. Forman snapped an image of the child's photograph and transmitted it to the station. KING had it on the air within minutes. KING, Seattle's NBC affiliate, is owned by Belo Corp.

Triple Play

Charlottesville, Va.—Looks like this tiny market, DMA No. 186, may get some competition. Two new network affiliates are calling the college town home.

Gray Television is ramping up WCAV as a CBS affiliate. It has just announced plans to operate a low-power ABC affiliate, WVAW, as part of a duopoly.

The stations have hired Tara Brown, news director at co-owned WHSV Harrisonburg, Va., to run the news operation.

Until Gray's announcement, Charlottesville had only one major network affiliate, Waterman Broadcasting's NBC station, WVIR. CBS and ABC signals were piped in via cable from Richmond and Roanoke.

Trainspotting

New Haven, Conn.—WTNH worried that rail trains stored in yards were vulnerable at night. So reporter Alan Cohn slipped in through a hole in the fence and spent hours wandering the yard and investigating security gaps. After the TV report aired, Connecticut's senators pushed for more money to add real protection.

Big Easy's Long Suit

Belo's CBS powerhouse WWL New Orleans plans to expand its already dominant morning news program to four hours this summer, moving Live With Regis and Kelly to a not-so-live live 9 a.m. start and bumping Martha Stewart Living. WWL is one of a handful of CBS affiliates that does not run the network's low-rated morning show.

"By 9 a.m. on any weekday, WWL has already generated more local news content than any of our competitors will for the rest of the broadcast day," says News Director Sandy Breland. The station generates huge numbers with its local show, averaging about a 13 household rating during the February sweeps. That's about the twice the audience garnered by second-place WDSU's Today
show.

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