When he spoke to my Breakfast of Champions group this spring, WDRB general manager Bill Lamb talked about how he toughed it out and got aggressive in 2009 while his competition didn’t. He acquired new syndicated programming and launched a new newscast, added staff and hoped that by the fall of 2011, the recession would be over and his station would be on the rise in the ratings.
Well, I’m not sure about the recovery from the recession, but it appears his strategy is paying off. In the first half of the first ratings period in which his new programming is on the air, WDRB’s acquisitions are scoring big. Lamb’s biggest prize, the syndicated Dr. Phil show that he swiped from WAVE, is leading its 3 p.m. time period AND helping WDRB’s 4 p.m. newscast stave off competition from the new newscast at WHAS. WDRB is ahead of WHAS by about a rating point at 4 and 4:30, while somehow the soap opera Young & Restless on WLKY continues to nearly double their audience.
Lamb’s other big gamble was acquiring ratings champ Regis & Kelly from WHAS at 9 a.m., opening the way for WHAS to create a local morning show, Great Day Live. Thus far, the change of station hasn’t affected the reign of Regis & Kelly as #1, while NBC’s Today show is in 2nd place. The new WHAS show is, thus far, pulling less than a 3 rating and losing audience from its Good Morning Kentuckiana lead-in. WDRB’s airing of the syndicated “Millionaire” game show, another Lamb acquisition, is leading its time period at 10.
WDRB’s 6:30 newscast, positioned against the major networks’ evening newscasts, is still in 4th place locally, but it’s gaining ground, just under a point behind 3rd-place NBC on WAVE.
WAVE’s shuffling of programming hasn’t gained it much ground. It’s still a distant 3rd at Noon after dropping its 725 Live show at 12:30, and its new 7:30 newscast is losing audience from its 7 p.m. news. Part of that may be due to a stronger showing by WDRB at 7:30 with its newly acquired reruns of the Big Bang Theory. Of course, Jeopardy on WLKY remains one of the most dominant kings of its time period in the market.
WLKY again leads most head-to-head competitions for its newscasts, losing only by a slight margin to WHAS at 6 p.m.