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Market Eye: Life in TV Town

Television trappings are all over Springfield, Mo. First off, the market shares its name with Homer Simpson's hometown. (Granted, there seems to be a Springfield in every state, but Springfield, Mo., is one of just three Springfield DMAs in the U.S., and the only non-hyphenated one.)

Then there's KYTV boss Michael Scott, who shares his name with the boss on The Office. Running an NBC affiliate, Scott has heard every conceivable Office joke; like his Dunder-Mifflin counterpart, KYTV's president/general manager has a World's Best Boss mug on his desk. “Someone gave it to me as a present,” Scott says.

Primetime isn't much of a present, but KYTV continues to thrive. Awaiting November results, KYTV won total day household ratings in May, along with morning, early evening and late news—its 16.0 rating/36 share at 10 p.m. more than doubling Mission-owned CBS outlet KOLR's 7.0/16. KOLR won primetime.

KYTV at times triples its primetime lead-in during late news. “There's a consistency of staff, a consistency of coverage on KY3,” Scott says. “There's a level of expectation from viewers, and I think we're able to deliver that.”

Shared services abound in Springfield. Nexstar owns Fox affiliate KSFX and manages KOLR, while Schurz owns KYTV and manages Perkin Media's ABC outlet KSPR. (KSPR's sports guy is also named Michael Scott, if you're scoring at home.) KYTV airs CW programming on a digital channel. Daystar TV purchased KWBM from Equity in April.

The revenue race is closer than the ratings race. According to BIA/Kelsey, KYTV grabbed $13.5 million in 2008, while KOLR booked $12.88 million.

It's been a rough economic period in southwestern Missouri. BIA/Kelsey ranks the No. 74 DMA at No. 101 in revenue. The market covers 31 counties, some of them in northwestern Arkansas, and includes the Ozarks and the Branson entertainment mecca. It's an early-to-bed, early-to-rise region with a strong agricultural and small-business base.

General managers describe Springfield as family-oriented—community service efforts play big here—and well situated, with easy access to Kansas City and St. Louis. “It's got a lot of advantages of a big city without a lot of the problems,” says KSFX VP/General Manager Mark Gordon.

KYTV and KOLR are scrapping for this year's revenue title. KOLR relaunched its news brand as Count On KOLR10, with a new set and graphics. Scott believes KYTV's got the upper hand with strong political reporting, Oprah and Wheel of Fortune, and better technology. KSPR moved into a new facility and began airing local programming in high-definition on Nov. 1; Scott says KYTV will go HD in early 2010.

“KY3 is a legacy station,” he says. “It's my challenge not to mess it up.”

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