Broadcasting, Inc. had a record-breaking year, with revenues 11 percent
ahead of 1999, and 1 percent ahead of budget. "
President of Freedom Broadcasting, Inc.
Table of Contents
High Desert Hero
A Paradigm of Time
The Perfect Political Storm
A Bravo Performance
An Inside Job
The President & Chairman's Report
Freedom Orange County Information
Board of Directors
Freedom's Family of Information & Entertainment Providers
2000 Annual Report Home
Freedom Communications, Inc.
The measure of John Creel's contribution to WTVC in Chattanooga can be found on the days when he's not at the station. "Just ask anyone in the newsroom what it's like around here when he's not here and they'll tell you how critical a role he plays," said David Gerlach a satellite truck operator. "He's the glue that holds the newsroom operations together." Creel joined WTVC in 1977 and is the News Operations Manager. "He keeps the vehicles running, meets the needs of the photographers, knows how to fix everything and does. He has backups for his backups, he's always trying to solve problems before they become problems and he's as conscientious as a saint," Gerlach said.
TV2000: Freedom Broadcasting, Inc. had a record-breaking year with revenues 11 percent ahead of 1999 and 1 percent ahead of budget.
But, have you ever seen someone who has a terrific tan, but is catching a nasty cold at the same time? It's hard to believe they're about to start sneezing when they look so great!
The "sniffles" began for the TV business midway through 2000 when the automobile companies caught the chill that was beginning to spread through the U.S. economy. As consumer confidence dropped, a slowdown spread to a number of TV advertising categories, with the result that national revenue for our eight stations slipped 1 percent below budget for the year, while local advertising fell short of goal by 8 percent.
And yet, our troubled year turned into a business triumph, and the reason is a part of American political history. Both candidates in the 2000 presidential campaign used a TV advertising strategy unprecedented in politics, but right out of consumer product advertising heavy ads where there was great "sales" potential, and few ads where there wasn't.
New York, Rhode Island and Oregon all were important to the campaigns, Tennessee and Texas less so, as "favorite son" home states.
But, nothing came close to what happened in Michigan and Florida! Michigan's electoral votes were called "ground zero" in the campaign. And Florida? Imagine what it was like having a station in the West Palm Beach, to say nothing of two of them in Michigan!
The group sold more than double the highest political commercial volume we'd ever had in previous campaigns, more than 100 percent greater than we had budgeted, as we found ourselves in the very centers of great local news stories. Handling all that unexpected volume while making sure there's still something left to sell is hard work, and the story of how we did it appears elsewhere on page 13.
The underlying weakness in all media advertising persists into 2001 and, in fact, our group has been preparing for a rainy day starting in 2000. The sun will shine again soon, but until then, a lot of umbrellas are out at the eight Freedom stations.
2000 was also the year that the company's internet strategy was refined, bringing operating divisions closer to the process. This created an opportunity for one of our brightest and best to grow into a new role. Bill Rinchik was named division vice president for Finance and New Ventures. He'll help to guide our internet and emerging digital TV strategies, while continuing to watch over our finances.
Jim Wareham became vice president and general manager of Lansing's ABC station, WLAJ-TV. Jim had been sales chief at our nearby WWMT-TV, and demonstrates the value of maintaining a great bench of those qualified and ready to move up.
Our spectacular performance was possible only because of the many talented men and women who are Freedom Broadcasting. We salute them with pride and thanks, and here are some of their most significant accomplishments in 2000:
At WWMT-TV Grand Rapids-Kalamazoo-Battle Creek, Dick Appleton, vice president and general manager: The station became the leader in weather forecasting technology, with "Doppler First Radar," the most powerful in Michigan television.
At WPEC-TV, West Palm Beach-Fort Pierce, Doreen Wade, vice president and general manager: During the historic election recount battle, the station televised a live town meeting to discuss all sides of the "hanging chad" controversy and other election issues. It isn't often that a serious discussion program gets higher ratings than its entertainment competition, but this one did.
At WRGB-TV, Albany-Schenectady-Troy, Tom Long, vice president and general manager: The station added "Instant Doppler 6 Weather Radar," an exclusive for the area, giving local viewers an earlier look at incoming storms than they've ever seen before.
At KFDM-TV, Beaumont-Port Arthur-Orange, Larry Beaulieu, vice president and general manager: KWBB-TV, the new WB-Warner Bros. Network channel on cable, operated by KFDM-TV, continued to grow in audience and revenues as the most successful project of its kind in any U.S. market.
At WTVC, Chattanooga, Jerry Lingerfelt, vice president and general manager: The station unveiled Chattanooga's first local Doppler Radar, in an unusual promotional alliance with a local advertiser who paid for the gear in return for regular mentions as it's used on the air.
At WLNE-TV Providence-New Bedford, Kingsley Kelley, vice president and general manager: The station is now the exclusive source for ABC-TV programs in Southern New England as the local cable system dropped Boston's ABC station for the first time in its history.
At WLAJ-TV, Lansing, Jim Wareham, vice president and general manager: In July, the Warner Bros. network canceled its arrangement with another Lansing station, and moved operations and sales for its cable channel WBL-TV to WLAJ-TV. Our success with a similar joint project at KFDM-TV, Beaumont, convinced the WB to go with us in Lansing, too.
At KTVL, Medford-Klamath Falls, Susan Kelley, vice president and general manager: "Survivor" on CBS was a hit in the summer of 2000, but what few expected was KTVL's performance: the nation's highest rated CBS affiliate for 18-34-year-old viewers tuned to the series.
- Alan Bell,
President of Freedom Broadcasting, Inc.