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Aug 27, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Helms scoop puts WRAL in spotlight
CBS affiliate WRAL-TV, Raleigh, N.C., got national exposure last week with an exclusive interview with Sen. Jesse Helms, who announced he would not seek re-election. The interview aired on the station’s 6 p.m. news, which is co-anchored by David Crabtree. Much of the country got to see the new high-tech set as well as the “WRAL High Definition” logo in the graphics, since the newscasts have been in HDTV since Jan. 28. National viewers also noticed that under anchor and reporter graphics, the station puts the anchor or reporter’s name and e-mail address.
WRAL General Manager Bill Peterson said eight satellite news trucks surrounded the station to get video of Mr. Helms arriving and leaving, and rival stations even aired the top of WRAL’s newscast live. WRAL also aired a special one-hour 8 p.m. prime-time newscast. The video aired on many stations across the country, and Mr. Peterson said it was the first time C-SPAN aired a WRAL newscast.
The 6 p.m. newscast was put up on satellite and WRAL gave out the satellite coordinates. While satellite feeds are normal, putting up an entire newscast is not. Since the WRAL newscasts are always in HDTV, the newscast was available in HDTV for stations, though C-SPAN took the feed in standard definition. WRAL engineer Craig Turner has been flooded with calls from colleagues around the country because of his front-page photo in Thursday’s New York Times, which was fitting, since WRAL gets a lot of press about its digital signal and HDTV newscasts. “Our chief engineer got his photograph on the front page of The New York Times, if you look above the fold,” Mr. Peterson said. “There’s a picture of Sen. Helms entering the station and the man greeting him is the station’s chief engineer, Craig Turner.”
WRAL’s ratings did not spike up. The 6 p.m. newscast earned a 13 Nielsen Media Research rating and 25 share, average for that newscast. The 8 p.m. special report scored a 7/12. Mr. Peterson said Sen. Helms chose WRAL to announce his intentions because he used to work at the station, reading editorials over the air, which gave him name recognition that bolstered his later run for senator.
More homes make Nielsen a priority
Nielsen Media Research reports that since the company began sending diaries to homes with persons under 50 in priority mail envelopes in July, the response rates from local markets have “skyrocketed,” which is good news for stations. According to Nielsen spokeswoman Karen Kratz, 32.7 percent of people responded and returned the diaries, up from 29.3 percent in July 2000. “In the research world, 3 percent is huge,” Ms. Kratz said.
In other Nielsen news, the total number of television homes in the United States is about 105,500,000 for the 2001-02 television season. That’s up 3.3 million from the 2000-01 season. The new universe estimate takes effect Aug. 27, meaning each national rating point will represent 1 percent of the total TV homes. Nielsen released its new market rankings earlier. Lima, Ohio, grew from ranking 201 to 191, while Dayton, Ohio, became smaller, moving from 55 to 60. That’s because Lima added Auglaize County, which was formerly in the Dayton market. Nielsen made the switch because more homes in that county were viewing Lima stations. Charleston, S.C., did not lose a county, but it went from ranking 103 to 108. Florence-Myrtle Beach, S.C., grew from 114 to 109 and Fort Myers-Naples, Fla., grew from 81 to 76.
KFSN-TV, Fresno, gets new GM
After three years at Chicago’s ABC-owned WLS-TV as news director, Eric Lerner becomes general manager at sister station KFSN-TV, Fresno, Calif. The change takes place immediately. He was previously news director at KING-TV, Seattle, and KWCH-TV, Wichita, Kan.
WCBS reporter gets Clinton exclusive
WCBS-TV, New York, political/investigative reporter Marcia Kramer nabbed an exclusive in-depth interview with Sen. Hillary Clinton, which will air as a five-part series starting today. Topics discussed include her relationship with her husband, the state of New York public schools and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat’s role in the Mideast.
Karissa S. Wang can be reached by phone at 323-370-2430, via e-mail at kwang@crain.com or by fax at 323-653-4425.