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TELEMUNDO EXPANDS TELEVISION NEWS CONTENT

In the latter part of the last decade, during the onset of the recession, Spanish language television markets cut back dramatically on news coverage pertaining to Arizona and the desert Southwest, consolidating bureaus in LA, Texas and Florida and piping in that news to Hispanic-heavy Phoenix and Tucson.

That didn't sit particularly well for many Spanish-speaking locals, and as a result of recognizing market trends, not to mention the lightning rod immigration has become in the desert Southwest, an improved Arizona presence has taken hold.

The latest addition is at KHRR-TV 40, an affiliate of NBC-owned Telemundo, which has expanded its weeknight newscasts from Phoenix to include a live 4:30 and 10 p.m. broadcast Saturdays and Sundays.

"I think the reason for the expansion of news is there's a demand for it in Phoenix and Tucson," said Araceli De León, President and Regional General Manager of Telemundo Southwest. "We know that because they call us or ask us in social media, and they want more local coverage from their markets in Spanish language."

Given the continued Hispanic and Spanish-speaking population influx, in many ways it's surprising moves like this took as long as they did. Phoenix and Tucson should be very attractive markets. Overall, Tucson is ranked the 71st market nationally in Nielsen's television calibrations. But among Hispanics, that number jumps to 25.

"There's about a million in population (in Tucson), and 37 percent is Hispanic, and 86 percent of that is of Mexican descent. In the 2010 census, the Hispanic population grew 30 to 35 percent," De León said. "It makes sense for us to invest in the news product and the station as a whole."

The weekend newscasts debuted last weekend. Daniel Aguirre handles anchor responsibilities. He was behind the desk for Milenio Noticias in Monterrey, Mexico. Ivan Valenzuela is weekend sports anchor. In all, Telemundo increased its workforce by double digits as part of the expansion.

Furthermore, De León believes upgrades in technology can help the station provide better coverage from the field.

"We've added over a dozen folks, and the cellular backpack units that can feed back audio and video, and we can do a live shot from there all the way to the border," De León said. "Having the flexibility of the cellular news units gives us an opportunity to break in on the spot, on location, which is a really nice tool we haven't had before. It's given us flexibility. The viewer gains from us being able to broadcast from location. We're able to go live, and if you watch our news, there's a lot more live coverage on location. We're certainly in the right place for the Spanish speaking community. They want us to bring them the latest information. We're doing what the community is expecting from us, giving them more live news coverage."

HISPANIC INFLUENCE SHOWS UP IN RADIO RATINGS

The Nielsen radio ratings numbers for spring 2014 were released last week, and the performance in some sectors suggests an increased Hispanic demo representation than other books.

This is not an unusual dynamic in this market, as Hispanic trends have a tendency to show more significant fluctuations from book to book. It's also not an indication of book accuracy. Given that Nielsen still relies on physical diaries, the ratings game in Tucson remains a general brushstroke of actual listening habits.

When stations like Clear Channel hip-hop format KOHT 98.3 FM move to fourth in the market, from 4.0 in the winter to 6.0 in the spring, and when Lotus-owned regional Mexican format KCMT 92.1 FM jumps from a 3.2 12-plus to 4.7, by far the highest ratings spike for either station all year, it's not a stretch to suggest the Hispanic demo held up its part of the bargain in ratings responses.

Top three stations overall, 12-plus: KIIM (8.9), Journal-owned KMXZ 94.9 FM (7.7) and Clear Channel's KRQQ 93.7 FM (7.3). KOHT was in fourth, followed by classic rocker KLPX 96.1 FM, which had its best overall number of the year at 5.9, KHYT 107.5 FM, which tumbled from a recent station-high 6.3 to 4.9 in this book, KCMT (4.7), KFMA 102.1 FM (3.9), Clear Channel news/talker KNST AM 790 (3.7) and Clear Channel-owned KMIY 92.9 FM (3.2).

However, when tabulating average weekly listeners, KRQQ comes out on top in most key demos. Among adults 18-49, KRQ's JohnJay and Rich morning show dominated the competition, garnering 75,000 weekly listeners. KOHT placed second in that category with 45,800 listeners and KLPX finished third with 40,500, nipping the 40,400 for the KMXZ FM morning show.

KRQ also led the way in morning drive among listeners 35-54. On average, 62,600 adults in that demo listened to the top 40 station en route to work. KMXZ and KIIM had much better success in that demo, occupying the No. 2 (43,100) and No. 3 (39,200) positions.

In overall head-to-head competition, legacy stations KRQ, KIIM and KNST turned in strong performances. Cumulus top-40 station KSZR FM 97.1 delivered a 2.0 12-plus number, its worst book of the year; Clear Channel country format KWYD 97.1 FM managed a 1.4, making it the only poor performer in an otherwise strong book for the Clear Channel cluster; and news/talker KQTH had a 2.0 12-plus number compared to KNST's 3.7. Journal-owned sports station KFFN 1490 AM/104.9 FM registered a 1.1 12-plus number.

It's too early to get a gauge on the effectiveness of market and format tweaks that took effect during this ratings period. Lotus traded station locations for KCMT and KFMA. The KCMT numbers obviously were pleasing. For KFMA, the book seemed pretty much a wash.

Among listeners 25-54, KQTH's news wheel/local talk maneuver seemed to have mixed results. Even though KQTH lost the 12-plus share battle, the morning show, which now features a news wheel during the 6 to 8:30 a.m. portion of morning drive and the Jon Justice Show from 8:30 to noon, topped KNST's morning block in that demo.

More by John Schuster

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