Tag Archives: Dallas

How Stations Use News Topicals On Facebook

This is the final part of our five-part series, Building Viewership with News Topicals. Read Part 4 here.

Across the country, millions of people watch the entertainment programming TV stations provide during the day and at night. So it makes sense for stations to promote their newscasts topically within all that programming in the hopes viewers will stay and watch the next newscast.

For years, this was the only means stations had to recruit news viewers with the news of the day, unless stations bought time on other media, like radio, print or cable.

Then came Facebook.

Facebook provides stations with another — and much more mobile — screen to reach potential news viewers.

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Creativity, Flexibility Drive Best News Topicals

This is Part 4 of our five-part series, Building Viewership with News Topicals. Read Part 3 here.

News topicals can take many forms.

Some creative services directors and topical writer/producers say recording the main news anchor sitting behind the anchor desk works best for their station.

Others see value in shooting their news anchor in the newsroom, cinéma vérité style.
And other stations try to feature real people and sound bites, along with reporter teases from the field.

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Finding And Keeping News Topical Writer/Producers

This is Part 3 of our five-part series Building Viewership with News Topicals. Read Part 2 here.

Creative services directors are finding it harder and harder to find good news topical writer/producers.

Some grow their own, plucking them right out of college, perhaps as interns, and train them. Others look internally, finding someone already at the station who wants to be creative.

With bigger salaries to offer, CSDs in bigger markets have the ability to recruit from smaller markets, but that presents challenges, too.

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What It Takes To Create Quality News Topicals

This is Part 2 of a five-part series, Building Viewership with News Topicals. Read Part 1 here.


Being a news topical writer/producer is one of the toughest jobs in local TV news marketing.

And to do that job well, the experts say, you need to have a passion for journalism, a thorough knowledge of what news is covering in the newscast, the ability to recognize what stories will resonate with viewers, and the confidence to promote those stories even if they’re not the news department’s top stories.

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KDFW’s Heartwarming Story Catches Christmas Spirit

On Tuesday nights during the summer, for the past 40 years, I get together with some old  friends to play softball. No uniforms, no umpire, no teams, really; we pick different teams each night.

Just the game. And the friendships. OK, and a few beers.

So this story from Fox Dallas O&O KDFW has special meaning for me.

A grieving husband who lost his wife found solace playing softball. He was going to skip Christmas this year, until his softball team showed up to show him the meaning of the holiday season, and sportsmanship.

Tributes Pour In Honoring Lee Minard

Lee Minard

Lee Minard, former creative services director at KLAS in Las Vegas, died last week at his home in Fountain Hills, Arizonia.

The local TV marketing community is a tight-knit group, especially among long-time veterans.

Many of us are thankful to the mentorship of others in the business who helped us along the way, and so it is for many who crossed paths with Lee Minard.

Lee had an especially long and varied career in television, starting as an art director in 1962 at KEPR Pasco, Wash. Over the years he worked at WREX Rockford, Ill.; KIMA Yakima, Wash.; WFAA Dallas; KCNC and KUSA in Denver; WDIV Detroit; WCBS New York; and WMAR Baltimore. In addition to his work in local TV, Lee also had top marketing roles at PAX-TV and the Food Network.

Last week, I wrote a short piece announcing Lee’s death and asked for anyone to write a comment. Family and friends sent me emails while others posted their comments at the end of that column.

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Building Viewership With News Topicals, Part 1

Tonight at 11, there’s a big change in the weather forecast.

That’s one of the better 4-second news topicals you can write.

Granted, not one you can use every night, only when conditions warrant, yet weather is the main reason people watch local news, and a ‘change’ in the forecast creates a thirst for news.

News topicals, those ubiquitous promos embedded in programming enticing viewers to watch the next newscast, have been a staple of local TV news since forever.

Effective topical news promotion can lead to sampling, and during sweeps, possibly into ratings.

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KDFW Commands Dallas Social Scene By 7 Million

KDFW, the Fox O&O in Dallas, dominated social media actions in the market over the last six months according to data from audience insight firm Shareablee.

KDFW has just over 13.5 million actions on social, 36% of the total engagement generated by the DMA, with more than 37 million social actions.

KDFW was also first in actions per post on Facebook with 1,571, and leads the market on Twitter with more than 300,000 actions.

KKDA-FM, (K-104), an urban contemporary station owned by Service Broadcasting, leads the market in Instagram with over 550,000 actions.

How is KDFW able to dominate the market on Facebook so completely, literally doubling what its nearest competitor gets?

Bruce Smith

It starts with having a legitimate history of listening to its viewers, says Bruce Smith, KDFW’s assistant news director.

“We have been a very interactive station with our viewers for a long time that far proceeded social media. We have a franchise called Viewers Voice which has been around for 18 years, which got its start from people calling into the newsroom commenting about a story. Now, Facebook is just simply another platform where we can interact with our viewers.”

Mark Norris

Mark Norris, KDFW’s senior web producer, says one reason the station is so successful on Facebook is because they know what people want. And what they want are local stories about people

“It’s people at their best or people at their worst,” says Norris.

“Crime stories, we do those. They can be horrifying, but it’s following up and figuring out what’s the human element of this” that is key.

“The other side of it is finding the people who are doing exceptional things. We want to showcase people doing good in the community, positive stories. But, bottom line, it’s people either way.”

Norris says that the amount of posts KDFW generates is only half what the other stations do, yet what they post scores high engagement. “We know what works and we know what connects, and we know how to ride it.

“I would say the biggest example of that would be the July 7th anniversary of the shooting of the police officers here in downtown Dallas. That was a really horrible time here.”

Norris says KDFW’s approach was not to relive those moments, but to honor “the memories of people who lost their lives.”

Sometimes, a story that shows high interest and engagement on Facebook, will prompt KDFW to give it added coverage in its newscasts.

Smith says the story of a missing 3-year-old girl is an example.

“Obviously, there’s great interest in that story. She has still not been found. So each day, that story continues to be one of the top posts. Based on that information, we have continued to put a reporter on that story every day.”

Unlike many  TV stations, KDFW uses Facebook Live sparingly, says Norris.

“We are not afraid to use Facebook Live, but we do not use it nearly as much as a lot of people do. A lot of stations use Facebook Live, it’s a way of life for them. They will Facebook Live anything and everything. To us it is a tool. If there is a situation that deems us using it, then we will go for it.”

Norris points to an example, the controversy over the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee.

“Instances like that when there is a major story that’s been playing out, we will go live. It has to be a good and special reason for us to go live on Facebook.”

KDFW does, however, use Facebook Live regularly featuring the station’s main anchor and meteorologist.

During severe weather, there are times that the severe weather doesn’t warn us cutting into programming,” says Smith, “but it’s severe enough our meteorologist will frequently be doing Facebook Live.”

Ultimately, Norris says the station’s success is based on its presentation.

“The way we do it is very concise, very clear, letting people know what’s going on.”

Local TV Promo Examples That Market Meteorologists

This week, Market Share is sharing how TV stations market their meteorologists, and we’re looking for examples from markets all across the country.

Send me your YouTube or Vimeo links or the embed codes to any spots that promote your meteorologists along with a short blurb about its origins, its background, its purpose and especially its effectiveness.

It’s no wonder that people who watch local TV news cite the local weather forecast as one of the main reasons they tune in.

Because while you can get the weather forecast for your area almost everywhere, the nuances of what your local weather will do, when, where, when it will start, when it end and what will happen next is best determined by the local meteorologists on the ground.

They can almost tell you the precise hour the rain will likely start, and the exact neighborhoods it will hit.

So making your station’s staff of meteorologists the first choice for viewers when they think of the weather can often make your news operation the highest rated in town.

Here are some weather promo examples from local TV stations from past Market Share columns.

Getting a testimonial from your Mom hits all the right buttons because who knows you better than your Mom?

In a column from October 2009, I profiled the work of Mike Davis and Peter Churchman, who have combined to create more than 1,300 local spots for more than 60 TV stations which have racked up over 100 Promax awards.

Here’s one of the spots featured from WABC New York’s weatherman Lee Goldberg from 2008.

It incorporates a video of Goldberg doing a weather forecast for a local cable system when he was 15 years old.

Davis says the spot adheres to one of his axioms: “Find the truth and use it.”

This spot from KATV in Little Rock, Ark., was featured in a June 2014 column showing new weather promos from around the country. This spot promotes that the station has meteorologists from top to bottom, who are experienced in local weather.

People whose jobs demand that they work outside in the elements can make effective testimonials for local TV meteorologists. In Lafayette, La., an airboat captain touts the merits of a KATC meteorologist. KATC is the ABC affiliate there. This spot comes from a column about why severe weather is still local TV’s turf.

I used this spot from KMSP, the Fox affiliate in Minneapolis-St. Paul, in the same column about severe weather being local TV’s turf. It’s a somewhat scary re-creation interspersed with clips from the station’s weather coverage.

The KMSP spot reminded me of a slickly produced spot from KWTV in Oklahoma City for legendary meteorologist Gary England.

And if none of those scary severe weather recreations work, you might try the help of Ernest P. Worrell and his friend Vern to set you straight, as he did in this spot from 1985 from KDFW, the Fox affiliate in Dallas.

You know what I mean?

Spider Stars In TV Reporter’s Live Shot

Spiders creep most people out.

Arachnophobia, the fear of spiders, is the No. 1 phobia in the world.

So while we might be in awe of the intricate webs they spin in nature, seeing them in the house fills many with dread.

Now imagine one crawling on your shoulder, slowly stepping its eight legs down your arm.

And you’re a TV reporter in the middle of a live shot.

Shannon Murray, a reporter for KDFW, the Fox O&O in Dallas, was in the middle of a routine live shot covering a workplace protest, the kind of live shot she says she’s done hundreds of times.

A large spider can be seen walking down her arm, but Murray was calm and unfazed.

https://www.facebook.com/Fox4DFW/videos/10154648075887093/

“I was aware there was something on my arm, I thought it was a mosquito,” said Murray.
“I just kind of ignored it.”

She said her photographer didn’t notice it as he was concentrating on the shot nor did anyone back in the TV station’s control room.

It wasn’t until the shot was over that a viewer pointed it out.

“I got in the car and I got a notification for a viewer on Facebook, ‘Oh my God, Shannon, you have a spider on your arm’. It really creeped me out at that point, I didn’t realize how large the spider was.”

She says she’s been told it was probably a wolf spider, which is a menacing name for a spider that’s relatively harmless.

Has Murray ever had problems with insects before?

“I’ve was doing a live shot standing in a pile of fire ants before.”

NOTE: Years ago, while working at WDSU in New Orleans, one of our reporters was doing a live shot and accidentally stepped into a fire ant pile. Suddenly, he drops out of the frame, and can be heard saying, “Goddamn fire ants,” then he valiantly pops back up and tries to continue, to no avail.

That appeared on the station’s blooper reel for years.