TVNewsCheck Contributing Editor Price Colman set out this summer to see first hand how the economy and the fundamental changes in the media business were affecting four stations in the East, off the coast and outside the Top 25. Today, he profiles WHP Harrisburg, Pa. (DMA 39) and its GM Holly Steuart who returned to the market after a stint in news at competitor WHTM in 1988-94. Now, as the leader of Newport’s CBS affiliate (and a MNT subchannel as well as managing Nexstar’s CW affil WLYH), she’s got more to worry about than news deadlines. WHP is working hard to attract new advertisers and getting creative (spotlighting local sports on its digichannel, enhancing its Web presence and creating a station iPhone app). Next week: WRAL Raleigh, N.C., and WVLT Knoxville, Tenn.
Welcome to the TVNewsCheck DMA Tour 2009, a rolling trek through four broadcast TV markets from upstate New York to East Tennessee with a look at stations in those DMAs and what they’re doing to deal with tough economic times.
Contributing Editor Price Colman started his journey at WWNY in Watertown, NY., (DMA 177) and then headed south in his RV on Interstate 81, an 846-mile highway that mostly parallels the Appalachian Mountains.
After visiting WHP in Harrisburg, Pa. (DMA 39), he swung east over the mountains to Raleigh, N.C. (DMA 26) and WRAL. Then, following the sun, it was on to WVLT in Knoxville, Tenn., (DMA 59).
At each of the stations, Colman encountered managers showing no signs of quitting.
Mixing years of experience with local savvy, innovative thinking and maybe a dash of desperation, each manager is finding ways to survive the downturn and build a solid foundation for the uncertain future.
One thing is clear: Along the eastern continental divide, broadcast TV is far from done.
NO ADVERTISER TOO SMALL
From her office at Newport Television’s CBS affiliate WHP, General Manager Holly Steuart can look across Harrisburg, Pa.’s quiet, tree-lined North 6th Street to the offices of WHTM, Allbritton’s ABC affiliate and a former employer.
Both buildings stand on a hill just a few blocks east of the scenic Susquehanna River that snakes through the Pennsylvania capital. The river, though too shallow for commercial traffic, is a recreation magnet and a calming counterpoint to the seemingly endless flow of traffic along its banks.
But it’s competition, not calm, that occupies Steuart’s thoughts and the building across the street is a constant reminder of it.
Befitting its size, DMA 39 has a full complement of full-power stations. In addition to WHP and WHTM, there’s Hearst Television’s NBC affiliate, WGAL, the market leader, and Tribune/Local TV’s Fox affiliate, WPMT. WHP manages WLYH, the Nexstar-owned CW affiliate.