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Tuned In: Demographics vital in close ratings races

Thursday, June 13, 2002

By Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV Editor

If Nielsen ratings were a portrait, the household ratings for the May sweeps released at the end of last month provide the outlines. The demographic ratings, released last week, fill in the color, texture and shadings.

Household ratings show how many people in total are watching a program; demographic ratings tell us specifics about those viewers, particularly their age and gender.

But even with demos, in the ultra-competitive Pittsburgh market, it's tough to get a read on which station rates best among people ages 25 to 54.

At 5 a.m., KDKA and WTAE are tied for first with WPXI second. At 6 a.m., WTAE is first with KDKA and WPXI tied for second.

At noon and 5 p.m., all three stations had the same demo rating. At 6 p.m., KDKA is first and WPXI and WTAE are tied for second.

All the ratings differences have been only 1 rating point between first and second place. At 10 p.m., WPGH leads WNPA by 2 ratings points.

At 11 p.m., WPXI leads with a 7 rating, KDKA has a 6 and WTAE has a 5.

With close ratings in so many time periods, advertisers have to look more narrowly at the ratings, homing in on what best suits their client.

If you want to reach women 18 to 34 at 11 p.m., Channel 11 is the best bet, garnering a 6 rating compared to the 3 rating on KDKA and WTAE.

If you're selling a product targeted at men ages 25 to 49 and you want to buy a spot at 6 p.m., KDKA has a 4 rating compared to a 3 rating on WPXI and WTAE.

If women ages 25-49 are your target at 6 a.m., WTAE leads with a 5 rating compared to a 3 on KDKA and WPXI.

With so many different demographics, there's plenty of room for each station to spin a success story, which in turn may leave some clients' heads spinning from the dizzying effects of demo numbers.

Let the games begin

Two weeks ago, KDKA announced a new 4 p.m. newscast. So this week we'll let the guessing games begin as to who will anchor the show.

News director Al Blinke said he hasn't decided on anchors or a start date, though sometime this summer seems possible.

As for anchors, it probably will require renegotiating some contracts to recruit any of the current staff. Among the station's roster of male anchors, Stacy Smith would seem the most obvious choice. He already anchors at noon and 6 p.m., so adding the 4 p.m. show would be a relatively easy fit, though it would disrupt his work on KDKA-AM.

Or maybe they'll go with two women anchors. Picking one is tough enough. Would Patrice King Brown want to come in early? Would Jennifer Antkowiak prefer to start earlier and maybe skip doing a satellite center report at 11 p.m.? Or would someone else get tapped? The station also seems high on Susan Barnett, who was scheduled to travel with the Steelers to the Super Bowl if they'd made it that far earlier this year.

We shall see, we shall see.

Reviving 'Digest'?

Although "Eddie's Digest" is history, some of the panelists from the long-running public affairs show hosted by Eddie Edwards are interested in getting a new show with some of the same panelists up and running.

Rod Doss, editor and publisher of the New Pittsburgh Courier and a "Digest" panelist, said nothing has been decided, but he said there have been discussions with local stations about bringing the show back in September with a new host.

"I'd love to have it revived," Doss said. "I've had a lot of people approach me and other panelists about the continuation of the show. They'd like to see it happen in one form or another. I have a feeling something may break at some point given all the interest generated by viewers out there."

Alan Frank, station manager at WPGH and WCWB, former home of "Eddie's Digest," said he's had no formal conversations with anyone from the show.

"I hear rumors that they want to resurrect it, but I haven't received a phone call yet," Frank said. "If they want to do it as paid programming, that's fine. My time periods are available for sale, but I may consider it [as public service programming] depending on what time periods I have for fall. We haven't put our fall schedule together yet, so I'm not sure what we're allocating to public service versus paid programming."

Local comedy show

Musician-entertainer Charlie Godart of Aliquippa, who wrote two Steelers songs this past season ("The Steelers Are Back Big Time" and "Black and Gold Steelers Blues"), has purchased a one-time airing of "The Charlie Godart Show" on low-power station WBGN at 11 p.m. Saturday. Godart said the purpose of the half-hour sketch comedy show, which he likens to an interactive "Saturday Night Live," is to give locals the chance to be on TV in a setting that's not a news story, similar to the days of non-news locally produced programs.

"People don't get on TV anymore unless they did something wrong," Godart said. "We're trying to change that in our own little way."

The show's comedy sketches include Godart as "fat Elvis" trying to get a job as a driver for Meals on Wheels. Amber Brkich of "Survivor: The Australian Outback" appears in a segment that tries to explain who Godart is.

The show's star said he hopes to buy time for the series on WBGN or another local station on a weekly basis beginning in August.

Channel surfing

WTAE weekend anchor Ted Koppy's last day on the air in Pittsburgh will be Sunday at 11 p.m. He's taking a morning anchor job in Phoenix. ... Simon Baker, star of CBS's Pittsburgh-set legal drama "The Guardian," won't be in Pittsburgh to film exterior establishing shots next week after all. Instead, a small crew will film only buildings and landmarks. In the meantime, CBS has hired a local casting agency to find a photo double for Baker. If you fit the bill, send or drop off a recent photo to Nancy Mosser Casting, 239 Fourth Ave., Suite 217, Pittsburgh 15222. For additional information: 412-434-1666 or visit www.MosserCasting.com. ... The last broadcast of ABC's "Who Wants To Be a Millionaire" as a series is set for June 27. The game show will return on occasion as a special, probably no sooner than November. ... Tony Vinciquerra, formerly sales manager with WTAE-TV in the early '80s, was named president and chief executive officer of Fox Networks Group in Los Angeles last week. Vinciquerra rose to executive vice president and chief operating officer of Hearst-Argyle Television, parent company of WTAE, during his tenure there from 1997 to 2001.

Rob Owen can be reached at 412-263-2582 or rowen@post-gazette.com. Post questions or comments about TV to www.post-gazette.com/tv under PG Online Talk.

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