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Stations focus on kids and graduates

Nov 18, 2002  •  Post A Comment

WCIA-TV, Nexstar Broadcasting Group’s CBS affiliate in Champaign, Ill., raises revenue through its “Caring Companies” program. Five area sponsors participate with the station on a variety of public service projects, including closed captioning and a community calendar.
An annual project that receives a lot of exposure is “Best of Class,” through which valedictorians at high schools throughout 19 counties in the Champaign-Springfield-Decatur area are honored. For about 30 to 45 days during graduation season, these students are seen on TV.
“The high schools send us the names of their valedictorians and we take their pictures on video, so there is some movement,” said VP and General Manager Perry Chester. “Every one of these students gets recognized individually. In one promo there may be six different students who appear throughout. [The video of] every student runs several times during and after graduation.” The promos are tagged with, “Brought to you by the Caring Companies and WCIA.”
The Caring Companies, made up of Busey Bank, car dealership University Auto, Drake Homes, Illinois Power and medical institution Provena, each receive their own promo throughout the year. “There is also a generic spot explaining what the Caring Companies are about and who they all are,” said Mr. Chester about the 6-year-old program.
Other stations in the area also focus on students. ABC affiliate WAND-TV, owned by LIN Television Group, holds a sports camp four times a year. At the beginning of baseball or soccer season, “We partner with hospitals to bring in doctors, specialists and coaches to tell kids how to train for specific sports and be injury-free,” said General Manager T.J. Vaughan. Each one-day camp, promoted on-air, brings in at least 100 kids with their parents.
Sinclair Broadcast Group’s WICD-TV, an NBC affiliate, targets college kids at the University of Illinois by throwing tailgate parties. “We do a live remote broadcast during the event, and we cover commercial breaks with live spots from tailgates,” said Sales Manager Gary Hackler. In conjunction with a local Pontiac-Lincoln-Mercury car dealership, the station recently mounted an online promotion that gave away tickets to the game and tailgate party. A cellular service provider sponsored the Illinois-Indiana game.
TV revenues for the Champaign-Decatur-Springfield market are expected to be $41.4 million by year-end, up from $39.1 million in 2001, according to BIA Financial Network.