April 27, 2008

Something about The Six

I’m glad that KEVN (Fox-7) has moved its suppertime newscast on weeknights to 6:00 p.m. The Six, as they call it, gives many of us an opportunity to get a different take on the latest happenings throughout the Black Hills. And if they were going to change anything, the time of the cast was probably most important, but they tinkered with a few other things, too.

Having talent stand rather than sit behind a desk is one of those changes at The Six. It’s a technique intended to provide a sense of energy and involvement that many news consultants have recommended over the years. I don’t object to it, but it’s largely a cosmetic tool – one you can employ when other things (like staff size and other resources) don’t seem to help in the ratings race.

We’re still talking about a measly amount of time – less than 20 minutes nightly for news, sports, markets and weather, after you extract the commercials. Of course, if you’re really looking for depth, you’re probably over at KBHE-TV (PBS, Ch. 9) watching the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer (or turning to the Rapid City Journal for local content with more meat).

KCLO-TV (CBS-15) airs its local news at 5 p.m., but repeats it again at 6 o’clock. However, since it originates in Sioux Falls, there’s not much that’s “local” for Black Hills viewers. Like public broadcasting, they lay claim to a statewide audience and sell advertising statewide, so their “local” news is largely Sioux Falls with tidbits from the Black Hills and the rest of the state.

KOTA (ABC-3) outclasses KNBN (NBC-21) at 5:30 p.m. and seems to have an edge on all of the stations because of its seasoned experience in the market. Simply put, Duhamels have been in the market a long time, and they know the market.

While I still occasionally hear about Nielsen ratings -- even among public television folks -- I’ve never put much stock in them, particularly here in sparsely populated South Dakota. I consider it a blessing NOT to have to deal with them or pay much attention to them. Our personal taste for local broadcast news/weather/sports gravitates toward KOTA, probably because it has a great lead-in with ABC’s Charlie Gibson. But KOTA Territory’s local presentation is rock solid – if not original.

I plan to watch The Six a bit more in coming days – and NewsCenter1, too -- in an effort to get better acquainted with their talent and how they go about their business. I’ll probably spend some time with KELO-land, too.

The best change for The Six is its new time slot.

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