Tough Times in Buffalo



What They Do

Ais in much of Upstate New York, these have not been good times for Buffalo. Even before 9/11 and the recession, it was falling on hard times as its industrial base rusted away. More recently, its unemployment rate has risen from 5% in October 2002 to 6.7% at the end of January.

The muscle-and-brawn jobs aren't there. As of 2000, 28% of those employed were in the service sector. and 23% worked in wholesale or retail trades. The manufacturing sector had dropped to 17%, but a local government agency study found that those jobs still bring in about a quarter of all regional earnings.

Plus, it snows. But that's not all bad. Christopher Musial, news director at LIN's WIVB-TV said, "One of the things that attracts people to this area, believe it or not, is the snow." For snow enthusiasts, especially skiers, the wintertime in Buffalo is just fine.

"On the other hand," he conceded, "last year, 7 feet fell in 21/2 days."

The economic skies continue to look fairly dark as New York State suffers its own economic declines. State aid intended to help renovation projects in Buffalo were diverted to New York City after 9/11.

According to BIA statistics, Buffalo TV revenues in 2001 were $103.8 million, down from $115.9 million in 2000. In 2002, revenues grew again, to $109 million, but that just got Buffalo TV back to where it was in '99.

But the television market remains competitive. For the past seven ratings sweeps, CBS affiliate WIVB-TV has topped Granite rival WKBW-TV in both the early and 11 p.m. newscasts. "We did it with stronger content," said Musial, who claims to have the largest reporting staff in town.

Stations here don't have any reporters embedded in Iraq, but they're closely following the war because 4,000-5,000 reservists are standing by as part of the 914th Airlift Wing based in nearby Niagara Falls. WIVB-TV has a reporter "dressed and waiting on the tarmac," Musial jokes.