MDS July 1995 Staff Meeting

Nine Years ago, I gave this talk and it was after Ch. 19's new News Director Craig Jahelka (now Vice President/General Manager KERO-TV Bakersfield) took over and Dan Satterfield went on the air. They were definitely out-promoting 31 and the research proved what was beginning in 1993 and 1994 was very effective. Photo above with Linda Spalla and me was a year later in 1996 when 31 and 19 were definitely in the "News Wars."

Meeting notes for Monday, July 10, 1995 with staff.

(Show some of Ch. 19's 6PM Thur show on Sat Truck.)

We have a significant problem. The attitude study just done by Magid shows almost the same ratio of preference as did Thursday night, May 18th during the storms and tornadoes, in the Nielsen rating book. (SHOW PIE CHART)

31 is the preferred news station by 27%, while 19 is preferred by 45% and channel 48 by only 9%. This is very bad news, but it can change if we react quickly before it gets etched in stone and the rating books.

We learned much, much more from this study, but in very simple words, there is not a single problem that we have or a single reason 19 has done so well, but the bottom line is, they do good TV News and Weather, and they understand the "SHOW" and presentation of it. They market well, it is unified and complete.

They have been growing, trying new things, adding new features, elements and ideas to their programs. We, on the other hand are seen as good, but much the same as 3-4 years ago. We may be a Cadillac product, but there is rust on the fenders and scratches and dirt on the car and the engine, from just running at idle speeds, does not seem to perform like it once did (IN THE EYES OF THE VIEWER). 19 is seen as the station that has been getting better, while 31 and 48 are seen as not as good as they used to be, by a number of people.

Area differences...shoals WHNT=55%, in DCU 39%, Lincoln 64%, east DMA=45%
WAAY = 19% shoals, 7% Lincoln co. and 32% in Hsv for preference levels.

Elements of decision-making process..... rated for strongest reason for choosing one station over another. (All loyalist say same thing. The AMOUNT of news the station COVERS from YOUR area = 83%

Newscast imagery:  How THEY ranked US (31) in most mentions
Covers news 24 hours a day.....AAY=42%, HNT=29%
Best coverage of news across the Tenn Valley   AAY=30%, HNT 44%
Most live coverage    AAY= 28%   HNT = 43%
Most resources  AAY=28%, HNT=41%
Best Job of covering news from where you live  AAY=28%, HNT=48% AFF=9%
Best Coverage of shoals   AAY=28%, HNT = 37%
First with late breaking news.... AAY=28%, HNT=44%
Best coverage of Hsv   AAY=27%   HNT 48%
Most enjoyable to watch  AAY 27%, HNT=49%
Most knowledgeable news anchors  AAY=27%, HNT=40%
Works to improve the local community  AAY=25%, HNT=37%
Makes the news easy to understand  AAY=25%, HNT =46%
News anchors who really care about the news they report AAY=24%, HNT=43%
Understands what's important to you  AAY=24%, HNT=45%
Decatur news   AAY=21%, HNT=30%   AFF=15%(higher than their 9% base)
Better than used to be   AAY=18%, HNT=44%
Gotten worse than used to be...  WAAY=11%,   HNT=6%, AFF=21%

Then consider OUR loyalists vs. ours name us for all those elements...70% is a desired level from a station's own loyalists.

We were good, but our loyalists say only 64% for shoals. Coverage from Huntsville, we are also low at 66%.....

Importance of Weather.... 84% VERY Important, 14% somewhat.... 3% NONE

How Interested are you?   In addition to covering the local news....(that's #1)
1. Good news that is happening in the community  76%
2. Stories that reflect the value of the family  67%
3.  Stories about health and medicine....  60%
4. Summary of the day's top national stories  59%
5. Local people/places of interest    51%
6. Report about consumer issues    35%
7. Religious stories   32%

There was a time we were criticized when we made a big deal out of weather...that we were scaring people...and we were a dominant #1 in we don't get criticized about that...but channel 19 does do it...and look who's #1 on the weather. We should go wall to wall on everything that's any kind of big weather story and do coverage in ways the competition has not thought of....

Night of Wed. July 5th, 10pm...we did lead with weather, but 19had people in Arab, Live heading for shelters and cover....and our 3 packs of weather...lead with weather of evening...story of severe weather...real or percieved...better technology? Actually a bit of both....but we have TWO claimed Weather Experts...but there was nothing from Bob and Gary, from a Marketing perspective? Why were they not included in the story. We did story on mobile home story and shingles, and could not get it carried off....but that was another story that could have been tied could have been "big story, team coverage" and all this depth, but we didn't do and and didn't sell it well at all.

The big story needs to be blown out of lies, but really blow it up and sell it. Same whenever weather starts to turn ugly.

Shows look like it is just stories that are stacked together, not a program with planning, sidebars, and stories that make sense with the whole show theme. One thing, Mark is back on the assignment desk and things are working better. Do the producers know in the morning what today's show is going to be? Seems that they don't.....they are told what the stories are for today...and they just stack them.... Is interaction taking place? Dot says there is a bit of that going on, but not enough.


We have 3 or 4 separate weathercast on the same how can anyone latch onto the way we do weather and put their arms around it....Dan's weather is defined....and everyone does it that way....WE have to be consistent on the weather. You don't by a can of coke, and depending on who is working that day, the Coke taste different.... The viewers HAVE to know what to expect consistently and it has to be good...clear...and easy to understand.

Dan...LOCAL...where I live...easy to affects me where I live...I can understand it...


Overview....HNT and Dan cares......that's the message. They're out there when it counts....This is a desperate call to arms.... ratings are going to be a disaster...probably even before we could do anything much about it...but we have to pour on the coal, all the burners...and do everything we can to stop it. Everyone here at 31 has to get more serious about what they are going to do.

We have to be much smarter with LiveStar than anyone...get our money's worth, which will mean spending more money with sat. time and keeping the truck on the road...using it smartly and strategically will be the key.

We have to live up to our "COVERAGE YOU CAN COUNT ON" and really show that we are the News and Weather station with more of both, more often, more live and anything that connotes we are the best at it. Whenever LIVE news airs...make sure it's taped. Then in later how we broke in and did the coverage..and show a capsule of what we did.

If we promote a big story everybody has and we only promote in generally, the audience will go to their favorite station to see the story, assuming everyone will have it...and won't tune to US. So don't tease, "A BIG FIRE DOWNTOWN, AT 5 WE WILL TELL YOU WHERE IT WAS!" That makes everybody mad that you are trying to keep them in the dark. Almost as bad, "A BIG FIRE DOWNTOWN AT CITY HALL, WATCH US TONIGHT FOR DETAILS." No, again, everybody has it and they will watch their favorite station. BUT if we say, "A BIG FIRE DOWNTOWN AT CITY HALL AND WE TALKED WITH PEOPLE TRAPPED IN THE ELEVATOR DURING THE ORDEAL. HEAR THEIR SCARY STORY AND HOW THEY REMAINED CALM TONIGHT AT 5!" Now that's going to hook some people that might have gone elsewhere.

Even in bad weather, we have to drive them to our station, or they will go to their favorite station...saying something like, "We are going LIVE to the bad weather area and talk with a Florence resident who has a special story to tell about being prepared."

We have to be so compelling with all we are doing and about every element of news and weather...that what we promise about our coverage, we do...and we tell them we are doing it. We have to keep our severe weather coverage or big event coverage so compelling and constantly teasing what we have coming up next, that people can't afford to leave us for the competition. We have to keep them GLUED to the set on US.

[side note: Big Red vs. The Great White ]

We need 31 LiveStar bumper sticker and mini stickers to give out whenever LiveStar makes an appearance at any news story, location or event. Have Hats to give out to participants and key personnel like Mayor and Sheriff and Police chief of various cities we visit. Have them on for a flash for interviews, too.

We are not properly EXPLOITING our LiveStar or our news the way we should. Make every story, a big story element of our news. Tie every element of the news together as part of the big picture of that day's show. We need to have "big story" meetings long before the newscast is cast in stone from story content and presentation and plan for a "whole show theme" for every cast...and change it when the big story breaking demands it. We are not in the "history" business.

To the audience out there...19 is a fresh, new product, making advances and strides every day. They are exciting. Something is always happening there. At 31, we are the same old car we were 4 years ago...not nearly as new, getting scratches and dents. We were a great car when we were new a few years ago, but nothing much has changed in their eyes and we are "just good" but not exciting and on the edge. It may be a lot of perception as well as what we actually do....but perception is reality. The research tells us it is firmly based in performance, leadership with news and weather, being first, proving it, showing it, advertising it, promoting it within newscasts and every element (including even the 5:30 a.m. morning show) 19 " They ALL "get it!"" They understand to tie in the YOU...YOU...YOU into everything they say and do. It matters to those folks out there. It matters a LOT! We have to understand and be more "UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL" than they ever thought about being. We have to be more "YOU-oriented" than ever before.


Bottom line
  --Resolve to Win
  --Work Ethic/commitment
It's going to take ....IMAGINATION, BURNING DESIRE, CREATIVITY AND DETERMINATION to make us winners again. Every single person has to literally "catch fire" with the leaders (who better be on fire already) to take us out of this downward plunge.....or else.


Use your imagination in ways you have not before. Go out of this meeting with fire, resolve, determination.. and a commitment to use your creativity and......your....

(Clip from song....Imagination). you. My commitment is to steer this ship at full steam, full course ahead. I am proud to have each one of you aboard.

© 2003 Smith Broadcasting, Inc. [update 3-15-2004]