Viewers are few, far between


With a little over 400,000 people, Medford-Klamath Falls, Ore., isn't the most populous market in the country. Geographically speaking, though, it's huge, covering some 50,000 square miles. Two of the four stations in the market have satellite stations, and all four have numerous translators to assist in covering the market.

And you'd be surprised at the size of their engineering staffs. NBC affiliate KOBI, for example, has a dozen engineers to maintain the main station in Medford, a satellite in Klamath Falls, and 44 translators.

The market doesn't yet have local carriage by DBS operators, which is an issue for the broadcasters. KDRV General Manager Renard Maiuri says the market lost a county and dropped one place in the Nielsen market rankings, largely because of out-of-market viewing. He won't take advertising from DBS operators, which have tried to buy ads.

Station executives say the ad market is holding its own and didn't suffer as terribly as many did during last year's recession. "We went through some bad times earlier when the timber industry phased out" roughly a decade ago, says Maiuri.

The market's big industry, and one of its two biggest ad categories, is health care. The other is autos. There's also a fair amount of tourism. And, for a 100-plus market, Medford-Klamath Falls has a sizable chunk of national spot business. About 45% of KOBI's business is national, 55% local, according to General Manager John Larkin.

As of now, there's no UPN affiliate in the market, but MSO Charter airs The WB on one of its channels, and KDRV sells the ad time. Charter and KDRV are in retransmission-consent talks, and one point of negotiation is moving the WB signal from an expanded basic tier to the more universal basic tier, says Maiuri.

Celebrating its 50th anniversary next year, KOBI is owned by the Smullen family, the second-oldest family broadcaster in the U.S., says Larkin.