Market Eye: Pitt Crews

Pittsburgh news outlets are hard-pressed to match the national and global news that occurred in the market last year. The Steelers won the 2009 Super Bowl, the Penguins hoisted the Stanley Cup, and the likes of President Obama, Russia President Dmitry Medvedev and U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown were among the world leaders turning up for the G-20 summit in September.

Pittsburgh has long seen itself as a world-class city, and events like the G-20 showed that it has successfully moved beyond its steel-town past. “It showed the positive transition Pittsburgh has made,” says KDKA VP/General Manager Chris Pike, “from manufacturing to a knowledge-based economy.”

The new year may not see numerous world leaders visit, but political races shaping up for Pennsylvania's governor and senator should keep both the newsrooms and the sales staffs busy. “Political will be a significant factor in 2010,” says WTAE President/General Manager Rick Henry.

Pittsburgh launched Local People Meters last summer. DMA No. 23 offers a top-notch local news scene, with CBS O&O KDKA, Cox NBC affiliate WPXI and Hearst's ABC outlet WTAE fighting hard for the news titles. KDKA took total day ratings in November, along with primetime, evening and late news, its 10.1 household rating/18 share at 11 p.m. eclipsing WTAE's 6.1/11.

Mornings are a different story, with WTAE grabbing the title in November. KDKA brought former anchor Jennifer Antkowiak back to the morning desk, while WPXI added former WUSA Washington anchor Todd McDermott in January. “Numbers have been terrific with him in the chair,” says WPXI VP/General Manager Ray Carter.

WPXI's Peggy Finnegan and David Johnson recently marked 20 years as an anchor pair. Rounding out the market are Sinclair's Fox-MyNetworkTV duopoly WPGH/WPMY (WPXI produces a 10 p.m. news for WPGH), CBS' CW outlet WPCW and Cornerstone TV's independent WPCB, where receptionists greet callers with a hearty “Jesus Loves You!”

Home of Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh has a lively high-tech scene. Google and Microsoft have a presence there, eager to tap the local populace's brainpower.

The stations are eager to reach the local populace, too. WPXI has “the little cable station that could,” according to Ray Carter, in PCNC. WTAE has a new news director in Alex Bongiorno and This TV in place of a weather channel on its digital tier. “People are tuning in to a two-hour movie instead of five minutes of weather,” Henry says.

KDKA has a new iPhone app and is working closer with sibling radio properties in the market. “We have terrific content that people want,” Pike says. “We look to make it available however consumers want to consume it.”

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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.