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EXCLUSIVE: Fox Affiliate KTRV Boise Going Independent

KTRV Boise will return to its roots as a full-on independent station after Fox announced last month it was giving its affiliation in DMA No. 113 to Journal's KNIN. The station, owned by Block Communications, will add 1.5 hours of news a day and a half-dozen bodies to the newsroom, and will go with syndicated comedies and dramas in primetime.

KTRV started as an independent in 1981 and partnered with Fox in 1985. "We'll be a full-fledged independent in the purest sense of the term," says Ricky Joseph, president and general manager at KTRV. "It's a return to the grass roots at the very beginning, before Fox."

Besides adding news, KTRV will get more involved in live local sports. There are three minor league franchises in the so-called Treasure Valley, says Joseph, playing basketball, baseball and hockey, and KTRV will look into broadcasting more of their games. "We'll also get more into the high school sports world--football, volleyball, basketball," he adds.

KTRV has a busy summer ahead of it; the divorce from Fox becomes final September 1.

On May 11, Fox announced it had new station partners in Boise and Evansville, severing ties with KTRV as well as Nexstar's WTVW. Fisher Communications announced June 13 it would begin airing CW programming on the digital channel of its KBOI Boise, a CBS affiliate, eliminating the potential CW option for KTRV.

KTRV will add an hour of morning news and debut an early evening newscast, giving it five hours of local news a day, and looks to add six people to its 18-member newsroom. Joseph says the station may rotate its primetime programs every five or six months, as if to simulate a network schedule. The station will air a pair of comedies in the first hour of prime, and a drama in the second; Joseph says the shows have not been finalized.

Drawing viewers to a station without signature primetime shows, such as American Idol and Glee on Fox, is a tall chore. Joseph says KTRV executives reached out to successful counterparts in other markets, such as the folks at WJXT Jacksonville (Post-Newsweek) and KTVK Phoenix (Belo), along with other stations in Chicago and San Francisco, to pick managers' brains on how best to launch and grow a station that's either largely or entirely independent.

"We're trying to follow the templates of a lot of successful independent stations," Joseph says. "We're not looking to reinvent the wheel."

After the initial shock of Fox's announcement, Joseph says KTRV staffers, both on the content and sales sides, are infused with an entrepreneurial spirit. "We're long-term players--we're not a shot in the dark," he says. "We want to make this one of the best independents in the country."