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Tuned In: Local news demographics show gain by WTAE

Thursday, June 12, 2003

By Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV Editor

Last month we reported on the household ratings that measure the popularity of local newscasts and now it's time for -- drumroll please -- the DEMOS!

That's demographics. Nielsen's survey of the audience's viewing is broken down by gender and age. Although stations tout their success in promotions based on the household ratings, they sell advertising almost entirely based on the demos.

Online graphic

TV News Demos: May 2003

A good demo rating is in the eye of the beholder. If you're a retirement community, chances are you target a decidedly older audience than if you're selling soda or the latest movie.

By and large, advertisers covet younger viewers under the theory they're less set in their ways and more likely to try new things. Nationally, networks tout the age 18-49 demo, but given the demographic makeup of the Pittsburgh market, local stations are more likely to sell based on the age 25-54 demo.

Even that can be sliced different ways -- persons, women, men -- but to keep things simple, the accompanying chart concentrates on persons and women, probably the two most popular demos.

Compared to a year ago, WTAE scored the biggest improvements.

All three stations saw some demo increases in the morning. WTAE grew the most at 5 p.m., WPXI was down one point among women and flat among persons and KDKA was flat in both demos.

At 6 p.m., KDKA was flat in women and down one point in persons. WPXI was flat in persons and down one point in women and WTAE was up in both categories.

KDKA and WTAE were up in both demos at 11 p.m. WPXI held steady in women and was down a point in persons.

Morano on WPXI

Former WPGH meteorologist Matt Morano will appear on Channel 11 later this month doing fill-in work, probably beginning June 29.

"Matt's sudden availability was an opportunity that honestly was too good to pass up," said news director Pat Maday. "He's a class act, he's a proven talent in this market."

Maday said there's no end date in mind for Morano's association with Channel 11.

Also at WPXI, newcomer Vince Sims began reporting for the station this week and will begin as weekend morning anchor on June 21. Stacia Erdos moves to anchor weekend evenings the following weekend.


Every TV station in town has gone down this path at one time or another. Last week I saw Channel 4 on the road to ruining someone's day.

During its evening newscasts last Wednesday, WTAE had its helicopter hovering over an Upper St. Clair crime scene where an elderly woman was found dead. The station named the location, showed the woman's house and said police were attempting to notify the woman's daughter, who was identified as a flight attendant.

With that much information, isn't there a chance Channel 4 notified the family before police could?

"This is not the first time I've seen WTAE News handle a story such as this, but it makes me very uncomfortable,..." wrote viewer Peg MacPherson of Speers. "They give so many clues to her identity -- so much for protecting the relatives."

Sebak Street

WQED producer Rick Sebak had a street named after him Sunday in Summerset at Frick Park, the new development in Squirrel Hill. Sebak was on hand to help with a lottery for new lots put up for sale when developer Mark Schneider, president of The Rubinoff Company, made the announcement that a short connector would be called Sebak Street.

Why Sebak?

"He's somebody who gets it," Schneider said yesterday. "He understands why this place is so great, all the little pieces of fabric that are so wonderful.... Rick talks about that in all he does."

For his part, Sebak thought the location of the street in the development near the Parkway East appropriate because he was born the same day the Squirrel Hill Tunnel opened 50 years ago.

"It's such a weird honor," Sebak said, "but I love it."

TCA awards redux

Last week I reported on nominations for the Television Critics Association awards and wrote that Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" had the most nominations of any series. Actually, "Daily Show" tied NBC's "Boomtown" with four nominations each.

You can reach Rob Owen at 412-263-2582 or rowen@post-gazette.com. Post questions or comments to TV Forum.

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