Lexington's Horse Power
The Lexington community followed news of Toyota's massive vehicle recall a few weeks back with considerable anxiety. Toyota Motor Manufacturing has a sprawling facility in nearby Georgetown, Ky., and thousands of employees knew they could be impacted by the news.
After a few days in limbo, cars are rolling down the line again in DMA No. 62. "We've [all] got a personal stake in Toyota as an economic engine," says WLEX President/General Manager Pat Dalbey. "We hope the worst is over."
Dotted with picturesque horse farms, Lexington will host the World Equestrian Games in September; general managers say this is the first time the competition has been held outside Europe. Hundreds of thousands of spectators from more than 60 nations are expected to attend the two-week event. The games will air on NBC, but it's a local story for Lexington media outlets. "From a local standpoint, everybody's making a heavy news investment in it," says WTVQ General Manager Chris Aldridge.
Ratings are a horse race, too. Gray Television's CBS outlet WKYT won total day, primetime and late-news ratings in November; it grabbed the latter with a 7.0 household rating/21 share, ahead of a 6.6/19 for WLEX, Cordillera's NBC affiliate. WLEX won morning news, while WKYT and WLEX split the early evening races.
WKYT is also winning the revenue race, according to BIA/Kelsey. The station's $22.78 million take topped WLEX's $20.2 million in 2008, the most recent year for which figures are available. Other players include a second Gray-owned CBS outlet, WYMT, which reaches Eastern Kentucky; Morris Multimedia's ABC outlet, WTVQ; and Sinclair's Fox affiliate, WDKY. The netlets air on digital tiers: WKYT has CW programming on channel 13.2, while WTVQ offers MyNetworkTV on 40.2.
Stations are hustling to get ahead. WLEX is growing its morning ratings, thanks in part to adding Chris Goodman to the a.m. desk. On his second tour of GM duty at WTVQ, Aldridge says the station is rebuilding its news product "to give people news they can use-news that affects their lives."
WDKY marked a 15-year partnership with WKYT, which produces the Fox affiliate's 10 p.m. news; Marvin Bartlett has anchored the entire time.
WKYT, meanwhile, gets around 15,000 users to view its 4 p.m. newscast on WKYT.com, and looks to own weather with a new million-watt radar system. "It detects elements in weather way, way before anything else does," says President/General Manager Wayne Martin.
Locals are eager to introduce Lexington to the rest of the world when the Equestrian Games roll around. "It's time for Lexington to shine," says WDKY General Manager Michael Brickey. "We get to showcase one of the best-kept secrets in the country."
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