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3 Bumps

Any Oklahoma military moms?

Curious to know what you think of KAUT's new "Freedom 43" branding and focus on the military.

From TVNewsCheck today:

With its 7 a.m. Rise & Shine newscast last Monday, Local TV’s KAUT Oklahoma City (DMA 5) officially became Freedom 43 TV, aimed primarily at the market’s extraordinarily large population with connections to the military.

“We’ll be tinkering with things for several weeks at least, but the over-all concept works and looks good,” says Jim Boyer, president and GM of the MNT affiliate and its companion NBC affiliate KFOR.

The concept stems from the market’s having one of the highest concentrations of military personnel in the country, Boyer says.

Its four major bases-- Tinker, Vance and Altus Air Force Bases and Fort Sill -- are home to nearly 33,000 active personnel, as well as more than 36,000 civilian employees, he says. The Oklahoma Army National Guard contributes another 7,600 soldiers.

What Freedom 43 means in concrete terms is that other than a few top local, national or international news stories, the local news is going to feature stories on the market’s major military bases and the people with ties to them, Boyer says.

Five people are now assigned exclusively to Freedom 43 news, including a morning co-host, evening anchor, two producers and a reporter/videographer, Boyer says. The other morning co-host also anchors a KFOR newscast. The rest of the staff works for both stations.

The station hopes the staff will grow with ratings and revenue, Boyer says.

Mary Ann Eckstein, news director for KAUT and KFOR, says coverage will run the gamut from issue-based stories, like suicides among reservists and deployments of locally based troops, to features such as a weekly check-in with a military wife at home with the kids while her husband is overseas.

Light features will also have a military cast, too, Boyer says. Cooking segments, for example, won’t feature celebrity chefs the way they do in many markets. Rather, bigwigs from the mess halls will appear on-air instead, he says.

Although the two stations will continue to share weathercasters, Freedom 43’s “local” weather reports will be like no other, covering on a rotating basis about 20 locations around the world where Oklahoma City-based troops are stationed, she says.

Even the new set has unmistaken Armed Forces-inspired design. Described by Boyer as “military industrial chic,” the look of the set falls somewhere between a warehouse-style nightclub and an aircraft carrier deck.

In time, Freedom 43 may schedule other programming, including syndicated shows and specials, that conforms to the military theme, he says.

M*A*S*H, already a KAUT staple, for example, is likely to stay on the line-up, Boyer says. TV specials on Armed Forces-related subjects will likely be fit into the mix as well.

Before the move, KAUT filled its two daily newscasts with content from KFOR – a common practice with duopolies.

But despite several rebranding attempts consistently, the station remained sixth in sign-on to sign-off ratings as well as revenue in an eight-station market.

Last summer, a group of station executives agreed that something dramatic was going to have to be done with the station for it to get any traction, Boyer says. After crunching the numbers, he says, the team decided to give the Freedom 43 concept a shot, as getting any reasonable traction among military types would be an improvement.

“We don’t have to be No. 1,” Boyer says. “We just need to get enough viewers to get a return on our investment.”

According to Boyer, the Freedom 43 concept is based in part on the station’s belief that the target audience has shared values -- faith, freedom and patriotism.

But the station has no political agenda, Boyer says. “We are not Fox. Rather than push a point of view, we are going to follow a point of view.”

While local news operations have experimented with other niches, such as women, young people or ethnic groups, industry watchers say they have never seen a newscast bound by an institution or job as KAUT’s is.

And, the experts say, the effort, if successful, could pave the way for other broadcasters also looking for a way to distinguish themselves other than on the basis of gender, age or ethnicity.

“I would think a whole lot of people will watch this and see what happens,” says Bob Papper, the Hofstra University media studies professor. “If it looks like it’s working, what we will see, as we always see, is massive copying.”


That's an excerpt from the article. It's an interesting idea.

Answer Question

Asked by gdiamante at 3:54 PM on Apr. 18, 2011 in Politics & Current Events

Level 37 (95,170 Credits)
Answers (4)
  • I'm not in OK, and we are retired military ~ but I think it's an interesting idea. I wish I lived close enough to see how it works out.

    So MUCH of what is factual and true regarding the military is lost on the general civilian population. So MUCH of what is inaccurate or an outright lie is promoted by the MSM. Those who live and work around, or with, the military are the only ones who actually know anything. Perhaps putting more of the facts, and the day to day heartache/sacrifices that our military members and families take on will help civilians appreciate them a little more, as well as help them understand what our military actually is. Bumping you!

    Answer by Farmlady09 at 4:01 PM on Apr. 18, 2011

  • I wish it were national! So many realities of military life are either ignored or twisted and lied about. It'd be nice if some of those people could watch this station for five minutes just to see how foolish they make themselves sound when they repeat that trash.

    Answer by BlueCollarMama at 8:01 PM on Apr. 18, 2011

  • Great idea! We did a tour at Altus AFB. I think this will be well received in the area. Thanks for posting OP.

    Answer by yourspecialkid at 9:12 PM on Apr. 18, 2011

  • Love it!!

    Answer by grlygrlz2 at 9:16 PM on Apr. 18, 2011

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