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Dale Woods: Managing the Underdog That’s Barking at the Door

It’s not easy to change viewers’ habits,
especially in Des Moines, Iowa, where
Hearst’s KCCI has long been the ratings leader.
In 2012, however, Dale Woods, GM of Local
TV’s WHO, saw his station begin to chip away
at the Iowan Goliath.

Agriculture is a major industry in the state,
and Woods tapped into that by putting a big emphasis
on the NBC af! liate’s weather coverage.
“[That’s] one of the things we’ve done a great job
of capitalizing on,” he says. WHO is the only
station with a 24-hour weather channel. And
while KCCI was cutting back on meteorologists,
Woods says, he added to his weather staff. WHO
is also building new S-Band radar and will be
one of the first stations in the country to have it.

Woods says it’s all about making sure his station gives Iowans the news that matters
most to them. “We focus so much of the news
and the content on keeping it local,” he says.
WHO was also the first station in the No. 72
DMA to go fully high-definition.
Woods also oversaw what he calls a “Brokaw
to Williams” transition on the anchor desk, as
25-year veteran John Bachman retired in November,
with Dan Winters replacing him.

As for the year’s political coverage, Woods
says he knew early on that Iowa would keep
to its tradition of being a swing state. While
Woods says KCCI cut back on its political
coverage, he decided to turn up the heat.
“Early on we made a commitment to cover
the campaign, the candidates and the issues
every day,” he says. “We already were a
leader in the political arena.”

Woods also notes that WHO anchor Erin
Kiernan earned the station a national Edward
R. Murrow Award for Journalism Excellence in
2012, its third in the last four years.