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WBFS Goes With the Flow

Miami hip-hop star Garcia cut an unusual track last month: a rap promoting local UPN affiliate WBFS.

“I've got my remote in hand, chillin', watchin' TV,” Garcia raps. “Drinkin', flippin' channels, but there's nothin' to see. Hold up, now this looks good to me: It's Miami's hottest station, UPN 33.”

The rap is the centerpiece of WBFS' new “All About U” promos. But Garcia isn't your usual TV- station pitchman. Ads typically feature well-coifed news anchors staring intensely into the cameras. Most stations with local news peg their branding on that kind of product promotion, such as “Channel 2 Action News” and “Coverage You Can Count On.” But non-traditional affiliates have to find another way to carve out an identity.

WBFS, which calls itself UPN 33, caters to Miami's young urban viewers. Promotions Manager Larry Wiener says he wanted TV spots that were more MTV than local TV: “Miami is such a vibrant city. There's the sun, the beach and all the beautiful people.” Ads with a muscular, unshaven rapper fit the image, Wiener believes.

To find the right emcee, Wiener turned to one of his young producers, Hikmat Kilzi, who DJs a weekend radio show and is tied into the Miami music scene. But Wiener had strict guidelines: The station didn't want any gangsta attitude associated with the rap. Wiener wanted someone cool but clean.

Kilzi found just that in Garcia. A homegrown talent, he is a fixture at local clubs and has performed on MTV. He collaborated with Wiener and Kilzi on the lyrics.

The music videos are budget productions. Wiener borrowed a sliver of studio space behind the newsroom and rigged up lights and three plasma monitors. Station cameramen pitched in, and a producer dropped confetti from rafters. Garcia was paid a small appearance fee.

So far, WBFS has produced three spots for the campaign that run in almost every daypart, including prime time and weekends. Two are general branding ads that intersperse clips of UPN shows with Garcia's rapping. The third focuses on the station's syndicated comedy block with The King of Queens and That '70s Show.

The spots are just one way that WBFS is cozying up to Miami's young and hip. The station regularly gives away tickets to concerts, and other prizes have included Sony PSPs, Xbox game machines and iPod Nanos. The idea, says Wiener, is to associate WBFS with a youthful lifestyle: “We want to make the station more than just programming.”

Garcia, whose first name is Michael, is helping to spread the message. He gives interviews on radio and makes appearances for the station. WBFS, he says, is building an effective campaign: “Some TV stations are a bunch of old people that don't understand their market. These guys are hip to the community.”

Olympic Action In the 'Zone'

When the first skier flies down the Italian Alps in the Winter Olympics next month, NBC's WESH Orlando, Fla., will take in the action from a balmier locale at Universal Studio's City Walk in Orlando.

Hearst-Argyle–owned WESH is one of dozens of NBC stations that plans to air nightly preview show Olympic Zone, mixing profiles of local athletes with network-supplied features. So far, stations covering 70% of the country have signed on. The show will air nightly in access Feb. 8-26, except for Sundays.

But WESH is making its program more of a production. The station struck a deal with NBC Universal to air its version live from City Walk, and it is building a special soundstage for the show.

Olympic Zone is the brainchild of NBC affiliate KCRA Sacramento, Calif., which started the 30-minute program during the 2004 Athens Games. At last year's NBC affiliates meeting, the network and its partner stations agreed to morph the show into a hybrid local and national production that would be carried across the country.