Station Break

Putting the Best Spin Forward

Dayton, Ohio—A pair of stations are
about to reverse a two-decades-old affiliate switch. On Aug. 30, LIN TV's WDTN
shifts from ABC to NBC, and Sinclair's WKEF goes from NBC to ABC.

WDTN is one of a handful of stations that assumed ties with ABC in the
early 1980s, when NBC was doing poorly and ABC was on the rise. NBC effected
the latest switch to take advantage of WDTN's stronger signal and higher-rated

WKEF General Manager Bill Ross does his best to spin the change in a
positive light, saying the loss of Friends
and Frasier and the impending retirement of
Tom Brokaw have clouded NBC's future. "We were concerned going into the fall
about the prospect of having to compete against ABC," he says.

Sinclair itself was not so sanguine when it anticipated the prospect
in a filing late last year. "We may lose a large amount of programming ...
which could increase our costs and/or reduce our revenue," the company

Too Early To Tell?

Minneapolis—At first, it looked
like the return of Cyndy Brucato had stanched the slide at Hubbard
Broadcasting's KSTP. The struggling ABC affiliate jettisoned its anchor team of
Kent Ninomiya and Harris Faulkner in June and lured Brucato back to the seat
she vacated 17 years ago to go into public relations. Household ratings at 6
p.m. grew more than 23% during the July sweeps.

Now the bad news: While 10 p.m. numbers were up from May, they were
still about 8% lower than last July's. And despite the improvement, KSTP's late
news remains in fourth place behind Gannett's KARE, CBS's WCCO and Fox-owned
KMSP, whose 9 p.m. broadcast outdrew KSTP's 10 p.m. news.

News Push at WLWT

In a risk-averse business that values consistency, WLWT Cincinnati
took a big chance last week, changing anchor teams, logos, slogans and sets in
an effort to dig out of a third-place hole. No longer to be known as
"Eyewitness News," the NBC affiliate seeks to be the station "Where news comes

Sandra Ali, hired from WJBK Detroit, becomes the station's workhorse.
She will co-anchor four daily newscasts, including a 5 p.m. show that pairs her
with Sheree Paolello in the market's first all-female anchor team.

"You have to get back on people's radar screen, and you do that by
being distinctive," says Creative Services Director Jonathan Killian, who had a
hand in freshening the station's on-air look.

Things used to be very different for the Hearst-Argyle–owned
station, which led the market in the early 1990s with an anchor named Jerry

Coverage You Can Vote On

Austin, Texas—Perennial
underachiever KEYE gives its audience a chance to choose a feature story to be
shown on each Tuesday's 10 p.m. newscast. Newsroom managers throw a handful of
choices up on the station's Web site and solicit viewer votes. The people's
choice gets shown on the news.

In the most recent contest, they elected a story about daredevil
Robbie Knieval's attempt to sling his motorcycle across the bow of an aircraft

News Director Tim Gardner labels "Big Vote Tuesday" an experiment in
interactive journalism. A professor at the University of Texas calls it a
gimmick. "It's not that big of a deal," concedes Executive Producer Sousa
Williams, fielding calls in Gardner's absence. The market agrees. The latest
poll attracted fewer than 100 votes. Give the CBS O&O credit for trying
something new. Its newscast lags behind rivals KXAN and KVUE, but "Big Vote
Tuesday" has so far failed to deliver higher ratings.

WNEP Names New Anchor Team

Wilkes Barre, Pa.—New York
Times-owned WNEP has tapped in-house anchors Scott Schaffer and Julie Sidoni to
host its new 7 p.m. newscast, Newswatch 16 This
, starting Sept. 13. Schaffer will continue to anchor at 5
and 5:30. Sidoni moves from the weekend anchor desk.

WNEP, an ABC affiliate, historically generates some of the
highest-rated newscasts among top-75 markets. The 6 p.m. lead-in to the new
show typically delivers household ratings in the low to mid 20s.

A New No. 1 in Norfolk

Norfolk, Va.—July marked the first
time in years that LIN TV's WAVY failed to score as the market's top 6 p.m.
newscast. The new leader is Belo's WVEC, an ABC affiliate that posted a 8.9
household rating to WAVY's 8.5. News Director Michael Valentine credits strong