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Stations enter agreement

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by Karen E. Culp

SBJ Staff

Two Springfield television stations have recognized that there is strength in numbers.

KOLR 10 and KDEB 27 announced Feb. 18 a joint serviceagreement which will combine the sales, promotion and production areas of the two television stations.

On Feb. 24, the two stations also announced that Bill Saddler will become the general manager of KOLR. Saddler succeeds Dave Miller, who will join the corporate staff of VHR Broadcasting, the company that owns KOLR. Miller has been in the general manager position only four months; he succeeded longtime General Manager Ellis Shook.

The joint services agreement is structured under two separate agreements that will combine the sales, promotion and production staffs of each station into one. The two stations will continue to be that, and KOLR will continue to be the CBS affiliate just as KDEB will continue to hold its Fox affiliation. Kemp Nichol will continue as vice president and general manager of KDEB.

The announcement is new, so all of the details of the agreement have not yet been finalized. Most of the KDEB sales staff, 22 out of 24, have moved their offices to the KOLR office on Division Street, Nichol said. The two stations will renovate the KOLR building and anticipate completing the renovation in January of 2000. Nichol said KDEB, with offices on Cherry Street, has not yet determined what it will do with that building or how it will continue to be used.

The agreement will result in the addition of a 9 p.m. newscast to the Springfield news market. KDEB will begin a 9 p.m. news show, and the show will begin airing "as fast as is feasible," Nichol said. The company has already begun hiring consultants to study the addition of such a newscast in the area, and KDEB's parent company, Quorum, has added news to some of its Fox affiliates in other markets. Quorum will soon own a total of 14 television stations, not all of which are Fox affiliates.

The 9 p.m. news will be a five-day program to start. Nichol said the station will move its highest performing shows from that time slot to "high profile weekend time periods."

"We plan to be aggressive in terms of promotion. We see so much possibility for growth. ... We are not deep into our research at this point," Nichol said.

The 9 p.m. news show will have its own anchors, reporters and other on-air personalities, Nichol said, but the station does not yet know what the format of the newscast will be.

Mike Scott, general manager of KYTV, the NBC affiliate known locally as KY3, said that though there is a news audience available in prime time, the success of the 9 p.m. newscast will depend on the quality of the newscast.

"Our local news is the mainstay of our station," Scott said. He added that the station continues to lead in all of the time slots when local news airs now and has no immediate plans for adding newscasts.

The two stations hope to increase revenue for each through the agreement. Though they will share staff, the stations will be in every other way distinct and continue to operate as two stations. The combination of audiences will be beneficial to the companies, Nichol said.

"When you look at the demographic analysis of both, there is overlap among the 25- to 49-year-olds, and that's the demographic where the money is. That's the age group that makes the cash register ring," Nichol said.

Though the stations will have separate sales staffs, Nichol said the desire was to promote "one-stop shopping" for advertisers.

The changes to the staffs of each station have been minimal, and the stations plan to eliminate no jobs as a result of the agreement. Rather, the stations will probably add personnel in the coming weeks, Nichol said.

"This is a great example of the sheer dynamics of television in the marketplace and what can be accomplished with this shared service agreement," Miller said.

Quorum has its headquarters in Boston, Mass. VHR Broadcasting owns one other television station in Lubbock, Texas, and has its headquarters in Nashville, Tenn.

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