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Why ABC News?

Posted by Russ Hill on August 17, 2005 at 03:23 PM | Permalink

The emails continue to come.  They ask, "Why the Switch?"  Long-time KSL listeners want to know, why did KSL Radio switch networks.  They also want to know, why haven't you said anything about it?  Let me briefly address both questions.

Why Switch Networks?
The short answer is ABC News is better.  Let me explain.  KSL Radio delivers a very fast-paced headline service at the top of the hour.  Then, in our later in the hour segments we go a little more in-depth with "Closer Looks" or live interviews.  ABC's quicker delivery and more concise presentation is a better fit.  Their anchors and reporters have a fresher sound that better matches KSL. 

ABC also is in the same camp with KSL when it comes to believing the world of news is dramatically changing.  The information overload that now exists in our society makes it essential for all media outlets to evaluate what they do and consider how they need to change.  This is precisely why you see every network news program undergoing fundamental shifts.  The cable news networks have had huge turnover and major programming adjustments in recent weeks and months as they struggle to address this reality.  It is why outlets like The New York Times have purchased satellite TV channels and Internet sites outside of their own.  It is why The Washington Post now operates two seperate sites on their homepage: one for locals and one for those outside the Beltway.

Times have changed.  With an oversaturation of news existing in our society, especially national news,  networks are working to find a way to be more relative and compelling.  ABC is a leader in this area.

Another reason for the change is national and international news coverage.  ABC News has made a very strong commitment to KSL in making their correspondents and key people on both radio and television available to us.  Just today at Noon we spoke live on KSL Radio with ABC World News Tonight correspondent Terry Moran in the Gaza Strip.  Terry is ABC-TV's top White House correspondent.  In the last few weeks, ABC has also made available to KSL everyone from Trent Lott to George Stephanopoulous to Steve Forbes to one of the Jackson jurors. 

One thing KSL Radio does that can not be matched by any other station in the market is take people live to where news is happening.  Listeners expect that from us for stories in Utah and now we're able to deliver that in a much better fashion around the world.  From the London Bombings to the Gaza Evacuations we can take our listeners live with exclusive interviews IMMEDIATELY after a major story breaks. Before, we had limited access to network correspondents and availability was restricted while a story was breaking.  We needed better since this market depends on us for breaking news.  It is critical that our hosts be able to interact with correspondents.  ABC is delivering on that front.

Another reason for the switch is network attention west of the Mississippi.  Broadcast networks often are criticized for ignoring anything major that happens out in the West (other than Hollywood).  ABC News is very aware of this and has been working hard on the radio side to change this.  Their newest correspondents have all been hired from western states.  Even producers and writers who have recently been added to their payroll have come from states in our area.  This is important to us at KSL.

I would not be completely truthful if I did not say financial aspects of the network deal with ABC News were more attractive than what existed previously.  National news industry organizations have taken notice of KSL Radio during the last few years awarding the station with significant recognition for its level of news coverage.  This national attention has made the station much more appealing to networks seeking the strongest affiliate lineup.  ABC News made a decision it wanted KSL under its umbrella and lobbied long and hard to make this happen.  Their offer was a good one.

Why Haven't I Heard Anything about the Switch?
This is the second most common question I'm getting.  Here's the answer: Most listeners don't care.  We made a decision not to strongly promote the change because we decided news quality was most important to our listeners not necessarily which source we got it from.  I understand the long-time KSL core audience is interested in finding out about the switch (hence this blog entry) but most of our 305,800 listeners don't pay a lot of attention to details.  They just want the best news stories, best traffic coverage, and best weather reports. 

We deliver that and try not to overload them with details.  Doesn't mean we won't say anything on air about ABC News in the days ahead, it just wasn't something we were going to heavily promote when we flipped the switch.

Finally, let me say two more things.  Lots of questions about what this means for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir broadcasts that have been carried by CBS Radio for generations.  No change there.

And, some people have pointed out the change is an adjustment because of how long KSL was with CBS.  They're right.  You may not know KSL Radio was CBS News' longest running affiliate in the country.  73 years.  There was a great relationship between the two.  That's why this decision was in the works for nearly a year.  CBS News is a tremendous institution.  Their people and management have been nothing but professional and wonderful to work with.  Our respect for those individuals is not diminished. 

For now, though, ABC News and KSL Radio are the better fit. 

If you're interested in offering your comments... post them below.  Thanks...


Thanks for finally explaining what was going on. I listen to KSL all the time, and it was quite a surprise to hear ABC news instead of CBS. It'll take some time to get used to ABC--enjoyed CBS reports and reporters--but hopefully it'll be a good change.

Posted by: Brandon | Aug 17, 2005 4:56:19 PM

Does this mean that KSL NewsRadio 1160 will, say in the future, work with or something close to that of the ABC Television affiliate KTVX ABC4 or, because it's KSL, stay close with KSL Television? I know both Radio and Television are sharing websites but anything is possible.

Posted by: Sonny | Aug 17, 2005 6:25:16 PM

Thanks the detailed explanation. KSL is obviously trying to clearly differentiate themselves from other local competition. Could this move be to attract those of a younger audience and expand viewer/listener base? I've always come to expect quality from KSL. No doubt they will continue in that legacy. I'll watch and listen. But, I think I'll continue to get most of my national and world news from other online sources (news.google.com and en.wikinews.com).

Posted by: Eric | Aug 18, 2005 6:58:20 AM

I for one love the switch. I'm a California transplant who listened to ABC on my favorite news station there. They are hands-down better than CBS. Great move KSL.

Posted by: Ted Jones | Aug 18, 2005 7:34:58 AM

thanks for the update. Keep up the great work

Posted by: Brett | Aug 18, 2005 7:50:10 AM

Russ, Thanks for the explanation. But more importantly, thanks to you and Amanda for actually posting on the blog. Until today the blog has been averaging a new post every 13 days. I was beginning to think that since you won the Murrow award for the website that you didn't care about the blog anymore.

Hopefully this is a signal that the blog and press pass podcast entries will increase in frequency this fall. It seems like the last press pass podcast entry was in late June but now I can't even access those archives.

Thanks for letting me vent. I love KSL and appreciate the great job you do on the radio. The sports podcast stuff you guys are doing is great!

Posted by: Craig | Aug 18, 2005 8:39:05 AM

Why would radio change anything with it's sister station in TV (NBC affiliate)? KSL-TV hasn't been a CBS affiliate for years.

Posted by: anon | Aug 18, 2005 9:06:05 AM

Great business decision KSL.

Now that you are with ABC radio, could we hear 'Paul Harvey News' at 12noon (or whatever hour he now broadcasts)? I believe he is/was associated with ABC affiliates.

I really miss hearing him...don't know where to pick him up locally. I listened to him quite often with my grandfather for years, I always knew when he came on lunchtime was near.

I also appreciate the new change, I like the 4-5 minute version of the national news rather than the shortened 2-3 minute national news coverage CBS had.

Posted by: Don | Aug 18, 2005 3:45:18 PM

What about the Mormon Tab. Choir. Will that be on CBS still or move to ABC?

Posted by: J. Axson | Aug 19, 2005 2:51:44 PM

You have to actually read the blog "J. Axson"

From Russ' entry...

Finally, let me say two more things. Lots of questions about what this means for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir broadcasts that have been carried by CBS Radio for generations. No change there.

Posted by: anon | Aug 19, 2005 4:10:18 PM

When is KSL going to take on Mayor Rocky Anderson and show him for the real person he is that shames the capitol city by taking his office to the depths of demonstating against the President of the United States and dishonoring our military people that are fighting for his right to be the scum he represents!

Posted by: REX MARKS | Aug 20, 2005 5:57:26 PM

Thank you for the explanation of the change to ABC News. When I first heard the switch on the radio, I was disappointed - KSL News Radio and CBS have been linked in my mind for years. However, the more I listen to ABC, the more I like them, and I can definitely see that it is a better fit for your audience.

Posted by: Darin | Aug 21, 2005 11:34:22 AM

Regarding Paul Harvey News. Since he still is with ABC, would it be possible to have him back on with KSL? There is only one station that carries him. It is a low-powered AM station KVNU in Logan. I know it's easy just to go to the net and hear him, but traveling in the car, etc., you don't have access to a computer. Also, would it be possible to have KSL bring back the Paul Harvey segments of "The Rest of the Story?"

Posted by: Bruce C. Hartman | Aug 22, 2005 12:46:30 PM

Well, ok, but I miss Charlie Osgood in the morning, and Dave Ross as well. I'll grudgingly admit ABC News has a lively feel. I suspect that the last reason mentioned by Russ Hill was far and away the overpowering one: ABC decided it was going to get KSL at almost any cost, and they probably put a good salesman on the job to make it happen. As a sales manager, I'd love to hear some of those stories.

Posted by: Bob Folkman | Aug 22, 2005 6:40:17 PM

ABC hourly news does not provide Stock Market Futures which CBS did during it's early morning news.This has resulted in my listening to a different local station in order to get this information.

I would prefer you had selected a Fox Network affillation.

Posted by: spud | Aug 23, 2005 6:02:55 PM

I am having a hard time with the change to ABC news broadcasts. The announcers seem to broadcast with more sensationalism than the CBS announcers. Some mornings I feel like I'm listening to "WEEKEND UPDATE" on SNL. This is a change that will take some getting used to.

Posted by: Teri | Aug 25, 2005 7:07:35 AM

What has happened to Jackie McKay? I really enjoyed listening to her on Saturday mornings.

Posted by: Gordon | Aug 26, 2005 11:16:57 AM

I think KSL Radio has overlooked the importance of the dedication and loyalty of its listeners. I grew up on KSL with avid listeners as parents, and it has been a daily part of my life into my adulthood. I have the same loyalty to KSL-TV who DID show consdideration to its audience when it made the change to NBC, so why does this arm of KSL feel like, in essence, the ONLY compeller to its listeners is the quality and not the source? With that sort of logic, you could very well bury yourself in the future with your own words. KSL, quality is important, but so is a trusted relationship.

I am sure this is a great move for KSL-Radio and that it will bring more credibility to the delivery of the news. However, in KSL-Radio's handling of the switch, it is evident that they consider its relationsihp with its listeners as merely a business relationship and that loyalty is less important. In a sense, you are the Wal-Mart of news radio... great business, poor people skills. So, as I have done in my shopping habbits with Wal-Mart, I am making the switch to a "mom & pop" business, and changing my station down the dial to another outlet that cares.

Posted by: ray | Aug 28, 2005 1:41:31 PM

Does this mean we will hear from Paul Harvey soon? He is the best part of the ABC Radio Network....

Posted by: scott | Aug 28, 2005 8:46:29 PM

I would also like to hear Paul Harvey News again. There are no local station which carries his programs now. Not only myself but there are many who miss hearing his broadcasts. Thank You

Posted by: sherm | Aug 30, 2005 9:38:13 AM

Paul Harvey news? Yes, Logan does carry, but KMTI down in Manti has him on around 12:18 pm Mon thru Sat...
Congrats on KSL going to 102.7 fm. Now I can get the early 4-5 a.m. Wall Street Reports for my recorder via FM than to get it over Ch 5's SAP channel. Also, CBS did not run 3 min news....we feel that KSL radio chopped the last part of the cast..


Posted by: Jim | Sep 3, 2005 9:44:16 PM

Thanks for the update

Posted by: Mitchell B | Sep 4, 2005 8:35:55 AM

I applaud KSL's decision to switch to ABC News. You folks in Utah are going to be getting excellent service through ABC News, I'd like in particular to name one of the ABC Journalists, Alex Stone. Alex is new to ABC but was a long time broadcaster on 850 KOA in Denver. His stories are beyond world class and his dedication to bringing the WHOLE story to the public will be obvious to those of you who have never heard him before. A few weeks ago KOA here in Denver switched over from ABC to FOX News, and already I've been able to tell a decline in service from what ABC provided. Its just not the same strong service that ABC gives. I truely wish I were able to pick up KSL during the daytime hours on the radio here in Denver. I also wish KSL would get rid of O'Riley in the evenings and go back to local programming!!!

Posted by: Ryan | Sep 5, 2005 2:09:51 PM

I recently moved here from out of state where I usually listened to a station with ABC news. I had lived in Utah many years ago and I loved KSL then. I was very, very disappointed to find that the CBS news on KSL was of much lower quality than the ABC news I was used to. The political bias on CBS, as compared to ABC, was shocking.

Great move, I'm glad to see that KSL management is in touch with the industry.

One final note. Please, please, please add Paul Harvey to the lineup. ABC radio is a great organization, but Paul Harvey is the best part.

Posted by: Newell | Sep 6, 2005 6:05:41 AM

ABC News seems a bit "dramatic" to me... I liked the conservative, matter-of-fact presentation of CBS news. However, I appreciate that change always throws us, especially those of us who have listened to KSL for years.

By the way... LOVE the FM broadcasts.

Posted by: Lianne | Sep 6, 2005 9:02:32 AM

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