Sweeps Time Means Dancing

The sweeps are on—time for "watch-and-win" cash contests, exposés of the myriad bacteria on your dinner plate and other ratings stunts cooked up by local stations.

But this February, several ABC affiliates are finding a fresh promotional hook in one of the network’s most reliable prime time sweeps winners. Following the lead of the B-list celebrities on Dancing With the Stars, local news anchors are teaming up with professional hoofers for dance competitions tied to the hit show.

In Lincoln, Neb., KLKN’s 10 p.m. news anchors are battling radio hosts in a series of Dancing With OUR Celebrities segments. At WZZM Grand Rapids, Mich., reporter Stephanie Webb is training with Arthur Murray dance instructors for the WZZM 13 Dance Off. And in Rochester, N.Y., WHAM anchors are spicing up the morning news for Dancing With Rochester’s Stars.

After a local FM station challenged KLKN anchors Rod Fowler and Lauren Silverman to a dance-off with one of its DJs, the station built its sweeps promotion around the competition, calling in dancers from Basically Ballroom Dance Studio to train the contestants.

Each couple will be featured on the late news this week, leading up to the Feb. 25 finals to be broadcast from the Cornhusker Marriot and judged by viewers and dance instructors.

Fowler and Silverman are in it to win, says KLKN Promotions and Marketing Manager Dave Dwinell, even resorting to on-air taunts.

"They’re trash-talking," Dwinell says.

So much for happy talk.