Duluth Station Chief: ‘Ton’ of Viewer Calls After 13-Hour Arby’s Commercial

Half the population cooks up tasty meat over Memorial Day, and Duluth’s “My 9” station was no exception. The station, which runs as a subchannel of NBC affiliate KBJR, ran a 13-hour—yes, hour—spot, if we can call it that, showing a brisket sandwich doing time in the smoker.  

It was an Arby’s spot, for which the quickservice chain coughed up the half-hour paid programming rate—times 26.

Besides selling sandwiches, Arby’s was hoping to get into the Guinness Book of World Records; the old record for longest TV commercial stands at just one hour.

KBJR and My 9 is part of Granite, and is in the process of being sold to Quincy Newspapers as part of a $191 million deal. Duluth is market No. 139.

The spot ran from 1 p.m. May 24 to 2 a.m. May 25. Dave Jensch, VP/station manager at KBJR, said there has been a “ton” of media calls about the stunt—that is, six or seven. “There aren’t many media outlets in my town,” he admits.

Viewer queries were light, as viewing was light due to the beautiful weather that day in Duluth. Some were simply wondering what the heck was happening on My 9, which often shows local sports such as college hockey and auto racing.

Jensch says he got a call from his national sales rep at Katz that an unnamed client wanted to buy a 13-hour commercial. He won’t reveal how much Arby’s paid for 13 hours of time, saying only that it was in the “thousands.”

So why Duluth? “I don’t know,” says Jensch, who admits he thought it would be part of a national buy.

A PR rep on Arby’s behalf said she was “super-swamped” and presumably could not discuss the matter.

Jensch says My 9 is no ordinary subchannel. “It’s not a nameless, faceless [dot-two] that no one watches,” he says. “It generates significant audience.”

And soon it will be in the Guinness Book.

Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.