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Beating downers with uplifting fare

Like most markets, Cincinnati has been hurt by the advertising downturn—a problem that has been compounded by the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.

Several blue chip companies headquartered here, including Procter & Gamble and Federated Department Stores, are not generating their usual profits. And now, because of the nation's widespread fear of flying, Cincinnati's Delta Airlines hub has quieted considerably.

"It's been a difficult economic year. This didn't make it any easier," says Rabun Matthews, GM at NBC affiliate WLWT(TV), also noting that the station has spent a lot of money following the story.

His station might benefit from aggressive recruitment of local advertisers, but "we've all been so tied up in this thing that it's hard to think of anything else," he explains.

One positive thing that came out of the tragedy was the $800,000 WLWT was able to raise for the Red Cross relief efforts.

Also, notes WKRC-TV GM Chris Sehring, all of Cincinnati's TV stations and radio outlets have pledged to air more uplifting programming "to promote the healing process." Specific shows haven't been selected yet, "but the good thing is that the community is trying to respond."

Cincinnati should be able to bounce back from financial hardships. For one thing, Cincinnati's population levels are steady, which indicates TV viewership will likely remain healthy. "It's always been considered one the best cities to raise a family," says Sehring.

Sehring's CBS affiliate, the No. 1 station in the market, does have a lot going for it. Cincinnati skews to the conservative side, so CBS programs "overindex here dramatically." Even the not-so-conservative CBS show do well. Cincinnati was the No. 1 market for Survivor II.
In addition, WKRC-TV has a lot of promotional muscle, doing much of the news programming for the eight sister Clear Channel radio stations in Cincinnati.