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Looking for respect

You'd think the mighty Mississippi would spark interest as a historical landmark. But the Davenport, Iowa-Rock Island-Moline, Ill., market, evenly split by the river, is often overlooked.

Davenport, like Iowa in general, is struggling to shift away from a farming economy, with a lot of people leaving the area to look for work elsewhere. Not only does it carry a weak, 90 DMA ranking, but that is down from an 88 last year.

However, the region last month nabbed a $20 million grant toward a $113 million riverfront-beautification project. The plan, part of a $190 million "Iowa Vision" rejuvenation, is intended to ramp up tourism by turning Davenport into an entertainment hot spot, taking advantage of its river locale.

"Hopefully, that will have an impact in attracting some businesses," says Jim Graham, president and general manager of Young Broadcasting NBC affiliate KWQC-TV. "It should improve the quality of life and create some excitement in downtown Davenport."

Graham's newscast ratings typically are double those of his nearest competitor, ABC affiliate WQAD-TV, but he admits that it's tough to enjoy them when the market is diminishing. "Our goal obviously would be to increase the population and then improve our ranking," he notes.

KWQC-TV deserves the recognition, he says, because, with "our news coverage and the [expertise] of the people we have here, we can compare with the bigger markets."

Also boosting the growth prospects for the Davenport market, which also includes the stations WHBF-TV (CBS), KLJB-TV (Fox) and KGWB-TV (WB), is the emerging biotechnology industry. Soybeans, Graham points out, can be made into a great substitute for petroleum products. "That's good for everybody's future, not just for people here," he stresses. "And this is the natural place to develop alternatives that involve agriculture.