KSBI Folds Bold Local Strategy

One of the most creative local programming lineups in television is a thing of the past as KSBI Oklahoma City changes owners. The MyNetworkTV affiliate redid its program slate a few years ago to feature, among other homespun programming, game shows, live music and hunting and fishing programs. Late last month, KSBI confirmed that two of the shows, Oklahoma Live! and the gamer Wild Card, were being replaced by syndicated programming.

Griffi n Communications announced a few days later it was acquiring KSBI for $3.2 million, and plans to pair it with CBS affiliate KWTV. David Griffin, chairman and CEO, told B&C that KSBI is a “natural fit” for the group. “Our strategy is electronic media in the state of Oklahoma,” he says. “We have two stations in Tulsa, and always had a want, and felt there was a need, for a second station in Oklahoma City.”

Griffin would not go into plans for KSBI, but did say its staffers would move into the KWTV facility, and said the company is taking “the long-term view to improve the station and ratings.” KSBI’s offbeat local shows don’t look to be part of the mix. “The model is very, very difficult to make work,” says Griffin. “Revenue follows ratings in this business, and the shows struggled to hold an audience.” (KSBI’s ‘Wild Card’ was singled out in a recent Cover Story on eclectic local shows: go to broadcastingcable.com/Aug4.)

KSBI pulled in $3 million in 2013, according to BIA/Kelsey estimates. Its strategy was the mastermind of Vince Orza, whose career includes founding a successful restaurant company, serving as news anchor and running for governor. Orza was out of the country when the sale went down, but did say via email that KSBI is in good hands with David Griffin.

Griffin respectfully agrees. “The long-term approach paid off for us in Tulsa,” he says, “and I assume it will in Oklahoma City too.”

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.