Mouse on the March

Toledo has long been dominated by Raycom’s WTOL, but the CBS affiliate is feeling serious pressure from ABC-owned WTVG. The O&O has grown its market share of revenue 10% in the last five years, according to BIA/Kelsey, at the expense of WTOL, Barrington’s NBC affiliate WNWO and LIN Media’s Fox outlet WUPW.

“The market has tightened up dramatically,” says WTOL VP/General Manager Bob Chirdon. “It’s a real dogfight with us and WTVG.”

WTVG won mornings and the 6 p.m. race in February, while WTOL won late news, its 8.0 household rating/23 share ahead of WTVG’s 7.0 rating/20 share. (WTVG won in adults 25-54, however.) WTVG and WTOL finished tied in total day ratings, while WNWO won primetime on the strength of the Winter Olympics.

WTVG is gaining ground with solid investi- MarketEye: Toledo, OH gative reporting. “Everybody here does breaking news well,” says News Director Brian Trauring. “We add texture and depth to the issues; I believe that’s a point of distinction for us.”

Reinforcing WTVG’s commitment to local news, the station offers a quartet of public-affairs shows on Sunday mornings, including Coffee With the Fords, featuring former Toledo mayor Jack Ford and his wife, Cynthia.

There is plenty for the local pundits to talk about. Toledo Mayor Michael P. Bell declared “exigent circumstances” to push back the budget- balancing deadline. The city is looking to negotiate new contract terms for its cops and firefighters, among other city employees, and some are fearful of a city workers’ strike.

Toledo is going through tough times as it breaks from its manufacturing past. “Toledo is dealing with the changing culture of the city,” Chirdon says. “Like so many older Midwestern cities, it has to reinvent itself.”

Stations are, too. Ashley Johncola is WUPW’s “Face of Fox Toledo.” WTOL has three full-time Web content staffers and a separate set. “The Web is a great revenue source for us,” Chirdon says. “It’s part of the culture here.”

WNWO, airing on Ch. 24, officially launches its “What 2 Watch 4” branding next month. “We’ll do the full assault in the May book,” says WNWO President/CEO Jon Skorburg.

But WTVG seems to have all the momentum in DMA No. 73. “We’re thrilled with the way the February book went,” says President/General Manager David Zamichow. “We feel like we’re very, very strong right now.”

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.