TV Montana-Style

In tiny markets like Helena, Mont., things truly aren't the same as in the big city. Take ad rates: A 30-second spot in Thursday prime could cost as little as $150 on KXLH-LP, which simulcasts its CBS schedule from KXLF-TV Butte. Ads can also be purchased as a package to run on KXLF-TV and sister station KBZK(TV) Bozeman.

Station Manager Pat Cooney admits that KXLH-LP is "not like 95% of the stations in this country."

He employs one ad salesperson in Helena. It's "like small-town radio," he says. "Helena makes up 5% to 10% of our total revenue. There is a lot of potential there, especially now that CBS is doing better."

He figures that Helena is probably one of the top 10 markets by satellite penetration given the mountainous terrain. But viewers don't get local stations that way. It's likely be one of the last markets to secure DBS carriage, he believes, if it ever does.

KXLH-LP is part of Evening Post Publishing's Cordillera Communications TV group, which comprises four major stations and three satellite channels in Montana. A correspondent covers state capital Helena for all those outlets, which call themselves "Montana's News Station."

NBC affiliate KTVH(TV) simulcasts on sister stations KBAO(TV) Lewistown and KBBJ(TV) Havre. Local news, airing weekdays at 6 and 10 p.m., displays the three logos, according to General Manager Kathy Ernst, who manages them.

Located on the campus of Carroll College, KTVH has "a wonderful working relationship with the college," Ernst says, including internships for students. The station focuses on state politics and the area's community and education system. The station is currently purchasing digital equipment.

The station's building includes a classroom and rival KMTF(TV). The Rocky Mountain Broadcasting Pax affiliate went on-air two years ago. General Manager Paul Albertson is the only employee involved in its operation.