Robert Feder of the Sun-Times interviews Emily Barr of ABC-owned powerhouse WLS-TV here in Chicago on her ten years at the station, and keeping it one of the highest-rated ABC stations in the country. She also talks about how the station is well-prepared for the transition from analog-to digital (if fact – it’s already there – the station was the first in Chicago to air in news and its entire local programming lineup – including Wheel Of Fortune and Jeopardy! in high-definition.), and staying a step ahead through technology – by providing viewers with podcasts, exclusive-web content, and wireless feeds.
WLS has been the dominant station in Chicago for the last two decades, which still dominates Chicago Nielsen ratings sign-on to sign-off, in all local news time periods, in prime-time, and in almost all demographics. The station’s dominance has outlasted the now defunct UPN, WB, and PAX networks (and soon to outlast The CW and MyNetworkTV), and has avoided the pitfalls that other Chicago stations have fallen into (i.e. WBBM-TV’s plunge into tabloid newscasts and the boycotts by Operation PUSH – in fact that’s part of the reason how WLS-TV came to be dominant in the first place – WMAQ-TV’s Jerry Springer 10p.m. news experiment, and the questionable talent moves at WFLD-TV’s news operations.)
Ms. Barr’s success has attracted national attention as well. Here’s a story from last December’s Broadcasting & Cable, where as it talks about the Chicago market in general, it cites WLS-TV for its news dominance its near $1 billion in revenue.
With the exception of WSB-TV in Atlanta, no station dominates their competition in the top 10 markets like WLS does in Chicago.
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Dominant stations who crush their competition based on stability in talent (on-air and off), high-quality of newscasts, strong demos, and being a long time ratings leader:
WABC-TV (ABC), New York
WLS-TV (ABC), Chicago
WPVI-TV (ABC) Philadelphia
WSB-TV (ABC), Atlanta
KING-TV (NBC), Seattle
KDKA-TV (CBS), Pittsburgh
KUSA-TV (NBC), Denver
KCRA-TV (NBC), Sacramento
KSDK-TV (NBC), St. Louis
WFTV (ABC), Orlando
WRAL-TV (CBS), Raleigh-Durham
WLKY-TV (CBS), Louisville
WJAR-TV (NBC), Providence
WNEP-TV (ABC), Wilkes-Barre/Scranton
WWL-TV (CBS), New Orleans
WPTV (NBC) West Palm Beach, Fla.