What Happens in Vegas Plays Beyond It, Due to KVVU GM

Complete Coverage: Station Stars of 2017

When the horrific shooting occurred at a Las Vegas country music festival on Oct. 1, the city’s stations of course sprang into action, covering every last aspect of the horror that killed 58. Knowing viewers could use a little positive news amidst the gloom, Meredith-owned KVVU stood out with its “Heroes and Healing” coverage.

“It was what the community needed,” Todd Brown, VP and general manager of KVVU, said.

Brown knew his staffers needed something positive as well. He went online to see how other stations covered tragedies and saw something about an Orlando, Fla., station getting a visit from therapy dogs after the Pulse nightclub shooting in 2016.

And so a pack of pooches turned up at KVVU. “Out of everything we did, such as providing meals, the service dogs were by far the best,” he said.

The KVVU newsroom produced a gripping documentary about the shooting. The 60-minute film, called 1 October — One Month Later, depicted the exuberance of the Route 91 Harvest Festival, the anxiety as the shooting started and the heart-rending aftermath. It aired Nov. 1 and did a 4.0 household rating. “It was about good winning out over evil,” Brown said.

It’s been an eventful year for KVVU. In June, it won TV rights for the Oakland Raiders, which plan to move to Las Vegas in 2020.

Brown used the Fox5 Surprise Squad, the mobile unit that helps viewers in need, to spread good cheer. One segment, which featured a family of five that adopted three children after their mother died, saw the family’s home get completely made over, to their surprise and delight. Brown said the clip has 120 million views.

“From a content standpoint, that was something that pushed us outside our DMA,” he adds.

It’s been a strong year for the Fox5 news team too. KVUU won most key races in viewers 25-54, including 6-7 a.m., 6-6:30 p.m. and 11 p.m., the latter climbing 40% from November 2016 to 2017.

Terri Peck, KVVU director of marketing, said Brown inspires staff to play at a higher level. “Todd is a fearless and creative leader who encourages his team to be out front,” she said.

The station booked $5 million in nontraditional revenue this year, Brown said, such as a sponsored slot machine on its entertainment set, and the Gibson Showroom, a music studio that’s a partnership of KVVU and guitar maker Gibson.

Brown was singled out by the Nevada Broadcasters Association, which gave him its Lifetime Achievement Award. “Todd has made a profound and long-term impact on broadcasting,” said Mary Beth Sewald, president and CEO. “He’s such a visionary and such a trailblazer.”

Brown believes Meredith’s deal for Time Inc. may spell a win for the station. “It means more platforms on the digital side to push our content,” he said. “That increases our footprint that much more.”

Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.