WDRB, the Fox affiliate in Louisville owned by Block Communications, had the highest rated news in the morning (5,6 and 7 a.m.), in the evening (4, 4:30, 6 and 6:30) and latenight (10 and 11) among adults 25-54, Monday through Friday. “We’ve expanded our news,” said Bill Lamb, WDRB’s general manager. “Our nearest competitor has 40.5 […]
WDRB, the Fox affiliate in Louisville owned by Block Communications, had the highest rated news in the morning (5,6 and 7 a.m.), in the evening (4, 4:30, 6 and 6:30) and latenight (10 and 11) among adults 25-54, Monday through Friday.
“We’ve expanded our news,” said Bill Lamb, WDRB’s general manager. “Our nearest competitor has 40.5 hours of news a week, we do 59. And all of it is at the top of the heap right now except our noon.”
“We’re seeing tremendous growth everywhere, in every newscast,” said Robert Liuag, WDRB’s research director.
WDRB had the top eight most-watched newscasts in March.
“Our biggest growth has been in the 10 o’clock news, we’re up about 20% in the first quarter,” said Liuag.
“HUTs (homes using television) in Louisville in primetime are down about 9% in adults 25-54,” said Liuag. “We’re actually growing our ratings in the face of declining audience.”
WDRB’s March performance is a perfect storm of a news operation that has a clear identity and the marketing to convey that message.
“We have put a real emphasis on journalism, not gimmicks,” said Lamb. “We’re not about breaking news, we’re about getting the news right, and in more depth than anybody else.”
Scott Brady, WDRB’s creative services director, says WDRB’s ratings performance in March is the result of a “highly synchronized marketing strategy and effort with the news team to advance customer loyalty. If the product doesn’t consistently deliver, then the marketing becomes just hype. In this case, our recent WDRB ratings success is being fueled by our news team delivering on the product branding every day.”
One of the tactics employed by Brady and his team is to take advantage of the audience the programming delivers into the newscasts by adapting the news topical’s style and tone to fit the program.
“Each newscast TV program lead-in and digital platform may need separate approaches to present newscast content as a sell,” said Brady. “For example, court shows and talk shows are more conversational in nature, while digital is more mobile and visual with volume turned down.
“You can have a great promotion department and we do, but it can only move the needle temporarily if the product’s not good,” said Lamb.
Lamb says his station has made a concerted effort to hire better people, including six of the top journalists from the Louisville Courier Journal newspaper, who can tell better, longer-form stories.
“So it’s not a fluke, it’s been strategically driven by investment in better people and better technology,” says Lamb.
As examples of better technology, Lamb points out that WDRB was the region’s first station to use drone photography, and that the station has seven licensed drone pilots, all of whom are WDRB news photographers, using a fleet of drones.
“We have 3D weather, which no one in this market has,” Lamb adds.
One of the most remarkable assets that WDRB has is the size of its news department.
According to Lamb, WDRB has 96 people in its news department which is more than a TV station in New York City has in its news department to cover the five boroughs, Southern Connecticut and New Jersey.
In addition to the ratings success in March, WDRB news also earned awards recently from the Kentucky Associated Press.
“You can’t ever know if you’re a great TV station if your peers don’t recognize that you’re doing something special,” said Lamb.
“When the AP is telling you you’re the best early newscast, the second best early newscast, and the best late newscast, and the overall best station, something’s got to be happening there.”
Click here to read more about WDRB’s AP Awards.