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A Recipe for Robustness

Like the BBQ it's famous for, Kansas City, Mo., has the right ingredients—
of a robust TV market. The top three stations are typically neck-and-neck in ratings races, big-time advertisers GM and Sprint are located here, and short rush hours allow for more after-work TV viewing.

But, as in many markets, a slow ad business is hindering Kansas City's achieving its potential.

One problem is "that we had such an excellent year last year," says Wayne Godsey, vice president and GM of both Hearst-Argyle's KMBC-TV and the group's LMA UPN station KCWE-TV.

Last fall, he points out, Kansas City stations were flush with money from several political campaigns, including the senatorial race between John Ashcroft and eventual winner Jean Carnahan, who was controversially named the Democratic candidate after her husband died in a plane crash just before the election. "Last year," says Godsey, "there were a number of hotly contested, well-funded political campaigns that aren't there this year."

The market is committed to local programming, with Fox O&O WDAF-TV alone producing 49 hours a week in news. And each of the four network affiliates does four hours of morning news.

So it's "frustrating" that, when "we've loaded our guns with some great stuff, we can't capitalize" on it, says Godsey, who recently purchased high-profile Dr. Phil
for 2002. "The marketplace isn't supporting it."

However, WDAF-TV vice president and GM Stan Knott notes Kansas City has other things going for it, too. The Chamber of Commerce reports more miles of controlled-access highway per person here than in any other city, which makes for "very good driving" and more time for TV.

Plus, there's still a lot of shift work in Kansas City. With workers concentrated in the medical and automotive industries, which run three eight-hour shifts around the clock, "there's always someone getting off work. That seems to help viewership."