Success Stories: By giving, stations receive

Dec 2, 2002  •  Post A Comment

South Bend stations have found profitable ways to promote charity and volunteerism in their communities. This fall marks the third year of the “22 Ways of Giving” campaign for WSBT-TV Channel 22, a 50-year-old Schurz Communications-owned CBS affiliate.
“We have a nonpartisan committee that selects 22 of the best not-for-profit agencies in the area. And then during the months of November and December we promote donations or volunteerism to the public,” said Sales Manager Tom Labuzienski.
The event, which last year received the National Association of Broadcasters Service to America Award, brings in a variety of sponsors and thousands of community members. “We have one huge `giving day’ where all day long we take over an auto showroom and parking lot on the busiest street in town,” Mr. Labuzienski said. Gurley Leep removes all the vehicles from the parking lot and showroom to allow WSBT to bring in entertainment and exhibit booths from the nonprofits. The agencies are able to talk to visitors about ways to donate goods, funds or their time to these causes.
At Quincy Newspapers-owned Fox affiliate WSJV-TV, there’s a slight twist to the Adopt A Family program that many stations across the United States promote for the Salvation Army, in which community members buy goods such as mittens, coats and toys for families in need. Instead of promoting a single Salvation Army corps event, WSJV rounded up five corps in the South Bend-Elkhart area and promoted them together.
Last year, the first year the station took this route, each of the five Salvation Army corps saw the number of families adopted double, said General Manager Kevin Sargent. The event was promoted during commercials and news features and was sponsored by a single advertiser.
Another station in the market found a way to make up revenue lost on the anniversary of Sept. 11 while paying tribute to local heroes. WBND-TV found sponsors to underwrite a collage of vignettes that paid tribute to Michiana law enforcement, from the Coast Guard to social service agencies in Indiana and Michigan.
“We ran patriotic music, head shots, posed shots and some in action,” said Jeff Guy, general manager at two Weigel Broadcasting-owned stations (ABC affiliate WBND, and WMWB-TV, a WB affiliate). “Each spot opened with a quote from President Bush, [former New York] Mayor [Rudolph] Giuliani or others who had motivational quotes. We had no paid commercials that day, but ran about 11 of these tributes. It was good branding for our station, plus covered revenues for the day.”
TV revenues in South Bend-Elkhart, Ind., are expected to rise from $40.4 million in 2001 to $42.4 million by year-end 2002, inching closer to the $45.2 million five-year high the area saw in 2000.