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KMBC Tops Late News

Aug 18, 2003  •  Post A Comment

Like many local news leaders, KMBC-TV in Kansas City, Mo., isn’t content to simply measure itself against its neighbors. The Hearst-Argyle ABC affiliate also stacks up nicely when compared with other ABC stations around the country.
KMBC has been the No. 1 ABC affiliate in the top 50 markets in household delivery for the past four sweeps periods, with the exception of February 2003, when it finished second in rating but remained first in share. In the coveted news demo of 25 to 54, KMBC has earned the top spot among ABC stations in the top 50 markets for the past four sweeps.
In Kansas City, the station dominates the competition and has won the late news in households since at least February 1999. The margin of victory is impressive too. Over the past three books (May 2003, February 2003 and November 2002), KMBC’s late local news averaged a 14.1 rating/22 share in households to second-place Meredith-owned CBS affiliate KCTV’s 9.2/15. KMBC also won 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. bragging rights during those three books.
The station’s performance in news is all the more impressive given that ABC’s ratings have slipped 33 percent since the “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” craze in 1999. KMBC has maintained its prominence. In February 2003, the station captured a 14.3/23 in late news, compared with a 15.4/25 in February 1999.
“All network affiliates’ late news is a product of the lead-in [to some degree],” said KMBC President and General Manager Wayne Godsey. “But we have held up. I look at news rating as a function of a three-legged stool: on-air talent, promotion and community outreach.”
The face of the station has remained constant for many years. Anchor Larry Moore was first hired in 1968, left the station in 1978 and returned in 1983. Political reporter Micheal Mahoney has been with the station since 1980; weatherman Bryan Busby joined in 1985; sports director and anchor Len Dawson, a former Kansas City Chiefs quarterback and host of HBO’s “Inside the NFL,” was first hired in 1966, left in 1975 and returned in 1985.
“Stability in talent is a critical factor,” Mr. Godsey said. “If they are good, it will definitely help us stay on top.”
KMBC’s news approach is similar to that of other powerhouses, news director Michael Sipes said. “It’s not all breaking news or fire or accidents of the day,” he said. “The secret recipe everybody is trying to imitate is a fast-paced newscast with a variety of stories, not just all crime. We do a great deal of team coverage on breaking stories.”
In addition, the station relies on graphics to break up longer stories and maintain the pace of the shows.