Success Stories: Putting viewers’ health first

Feb 3, 2003  •  Post A Comment

Many people who call 911 for emergency help are in no condition to give their medical history to the emergency medical services team when it arrives. So some people wear bracelets or pendants containing their vital medical information. In the Colorado Springs-Pueblo area, there is another option.
KOAA-TV, a Cordillera Communications-owned NBC affiliate, launched the EMS File three years ago. This program, supported by sponsors from hospitals to Safeway Supermarkets, provides a plastic sleeve to participating residents in which they can place their vital medical information. The sleeve, attached to a magnet, is then affixed to a major appliance in the person’s home, usually a refrigerator. A sign on the front door alerts the EMS unit that the packet of information is on the premises. The EMS team immediately goes to that file to learn the blood type, the kinds of medication the person is taking and other pertinent information.
“Sponsors’ logos are on the packet itself, at the point of purchase at the Safeway and on promos discussing the programs,” says KOAA President-GM David Whitaker. “When we kicked it off there was a news series that supported the launch.” There is also a packet available for the glove compartment of the car in case of an accident. A sticker on the car window alerts the medical team. Both packets must be purchased by residents, adding to the revenue generated by the program. “It has worked well for us,” Mr. Whitaker said.
KOAA, which brands its station as “News First,” has two other popular revenue-driven features that have been rather successful. One is “Health First,” the other is “Teachers First.”
Health First is a monthly viewer call show in which doctors respond to questions concerning specific medical topics pre-decided by the station. Topics have included heart disease, cancer and baby care. Every third month general medical questions are taken. The call-in, which started mid-2002, is handled much like a telethon, though viewers don’t hear the questions callers the doctors. Nearly 200 calls come in between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m.
KOAA’s Teachers First feature solicits viewer nominations for their favorite teacher. The chosen teachers are profiled in a news feature and receive a $500 check.
“We are doing a great job selling the medium,” Mr. Whitaker said. “Most of the television stations in the market are doing a much better job [today than they were a few years ago] at utilizing the creative power of the medium to combine the interests of all the parties involved.”
TV revenues for the Colorado Springs-Pueblo area will be approximately $43.6 million by year-end, up from $42.3 million in 2001, according to BIA Financial Network.