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Trail Blazers

While all eyes were on Canada’s Vancouver last month, another Vancouver was also making news. A killer remained at large after a December home invasion, and 67 dogs from Southern California were brought north for adoption.

These stories and others come from a dedicated Vancouver, Wash., microsite—one of about 30 Portland community sites KATU produces. After launching hyper-local news sites in Seattle, Fisher Communications expanded the program into DMA No. 22.

KATU-KUNP VP/General Manager John Tamerlano says the initiative, featuring URLs such as, tallied 650,000 page views in January and included numerous advertisers that heretofore had not used television. “We’ve gotten positive feedback from the community,” he says. “It’s really exciting to watch this grow.”

With Canada’s Vancouver a few hundred miles up the coast, the Olympics were a big hit in Portland. KGW’s Olympics Website was No. 8 in traffi c among NBC affiliates, says President/General Manager DJ Wilson. Portland has long attracted outdoorsy types who enjoy watching skiing and skating. “It’s kind of in our DNA here,” Wilson says.

Portland offi cially introduced Local People Meters in July. Longtime leader KGW took NBC’s Jay Leno experiment on the chin; while Wilson says the station grew its lead-in 42%, KGW gave up its 11 p.m. crown in November for the first time in years. New Vision’s CBS affi liate KOIN won with a 5.1 household rating/ 13.3 share, besting KGW’s 4.5/11.8.

The races are wide open. ABC affiliate KATU took total day ratings in November, KOIN took primetime, Meredith’s Fox outlet KPTV won mornings and Belo’s KGW won early evenings. Other players include Tribune’s CW outlet KRCW, Fisher’s Univision affiliate KUNP and Meredith’s MyNetworkTV affiliate KPDX.

Portland’s employers include Intel, Nike and Adidas. The market welcomes a new Major League Soccer club, the Timbers, in 2011. The Oregonian daily paper laid off around three dozen reporters recently. Station managers may have a look at some former columnists to see how they’d fare on television.

All are looking for an edge in the ultracompetitive market. KGW is using its new Pioneer Courthouse Square studio for the Live at 7 nightly lifestyle program, while KATU is strengthening its investigative bench. “We don’t just do it in sweeps,” Tamerlano says. “We see it as something we can own.”

Meredith is expanding news in April, extending Good Day Oregon until 10 a.m. on KPDX and launching an 11 a.m. program on KPTV. “We’re still in expansion mode,” says VP/General Manager Patrick McCreery.

But Wilson says KGW’s strong news chops will help it reclaim late-news supremacy. “November is ancient history,” she says. “Really solid reporting wins the day.”