Channel 2 Tries Something New

CBS 2 Chicago (WBBM-TV) might be having ratings problems, but the station nevers stops trying promotion ideas.

Earlier this year, I participated in the station's wildly popular (and somewhat controversial) Traffic Tryout competition. I was one of 68 semi-finalists chosen from a pool of nearly 700 and my day at the station was good. But in the purpose of full disclosure, I have also interviewed at CBS Chicago a few times. Of course, I never got the job but at least I can pass advice to some of the young folks I mentor. One thing that they should know is that marketing skills have become key for success in the news business. (Luckily, I have two degrees in Marketing)

One marketing challenge of CBS 2 Chicago is promoting its anchor team of Rob Johnson and Kate Sullivan. That probably lead to the new promotional segment called "Your Chicago with Rob & Kate." The anchor duo wants viewers to submit ideas about their favorite places or activities in the city. If the idea is good enough, Rob & Kate will show up and do a segment with that viewer. In fact, they have already completed the first segment. It will air on July 14 at 10 p.m.

My marketing suggestion would be to do a news segment ON LOCATION. Radio stations do this all the time as "live remotes", but this could work for local TV stations as well. If people are out and about and see the TV cameras, they might switch to that station. CBS Chicago's news director Jeff Kiernan is a firm believer in getting viewers to "sample" the broadcast. But people aren't going to just keep coming back because of what they see on TV alone. If they can see the news at a surprising location, it might help boost excitement for the city. Since the Oprah show ended, the city has been looking for something exciting for residents and tourists.

I know that it's going to be a lot of work to set up teleprompters and set up a truck for directors, producers, and engineers to coordinate packages and satellite feeds. But it is worth the try. And if they do choose my idea....




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  • That stuff sorts of peters out. Consider, for instance, the showcase studio, that only worked for 7, not 5 or 2. At least someone driving backwards and into the 205-225 N. Michigan Plaza gave 32 a story "on its doorstep."

    These competitions also peter out. Consider the one at The SCORE, which started as a real job, the next one 2 hours 2 a.m. Sunday, and the current one only to be a blogger. Channel 2, being run by the same people, is no different, and eventually they'll go back to their company owned traffic service.

    The real thing Channel 2 (and Channel 5 for that matter) have to do is figure out how to be Channel 7, and even stealing people from other stations didn't work. I wonder if even Bill and Walter fumbling over the script has the effect now that it did when 2 brought them back.

  • Thanks for the comment, jack.
    I'm gonna use that term "peters out."

    I don't know how if they want to be Channel 7. Every news station in this city works best pursuing its own identity, in my opinion.

    But I'm glad you stopped by.

  • In reply to MrIsaacs:

    They did at one time, but that was before the Mike North experiment (again I was wrong, I said it would last 6 months and it lasted 7) and the current "let's have New York run it" morning show.

    Anyway, I meant in the ratings sense.

    As far as its own identity, I think 32 is schizophrenic; I watch Sirott and McPherrin, but the rest are unwatchable.

    2 needs its own identity, but I don't think that Bill and Walter reprised is necessarily it, and Rob and Kate don't have any pull. Maybe the indignation reporting of Pam Zeckman and the like works, but not for me.

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