A few Albuquerque stations are approaching important milestones and will celebrate in due course. Next year KOAT will be 70 years old while KOB will be 75 years on the air.
“29. November 2023,” said Michelle Donaldson, KOB VP/General Manager. “We’re definitely going to have some historical flashbacks. We will celebrate it all year long.”
Speaking of anniversaries and celebrations, KOAT is celebrating 110 years of statehood in New Mexico with a Celebrate New Mexico initiative (opens in new tab), with segments and stories toasting the state’s beauty, history and people. “We spend time in the community and talk to people to get a sense of what makes them special,” Lori Waldon, President and CEO, said. “We remind them that we are a state of beauty and great potential.”
Also, check out our local news close-up profiles on dozens of US markets
Hearst Television owns KOAT, a subsidiary of ABC. Hubbard Broadcasting has the NBC outlet KOB. Nexstar Media Group owns KRQE and operates Mission Broadcasting’s KWBQ (The CW) and KASY (MyNetworkTV) through a joint distribution agreement. KRQE is a subsidiary of CBS and its channel 13.2 is a subsidiary of Fox. NBCUniversal Local owns Telemundo channel KASA and TelevisaUnivision owns KLUZ.
Comcast is the main pay TV operator.
DMA #48 is a rare Nielsen market covering its entire state. Salt Lake City is another. Big, powerful owners make for strong stations and good competition, but KOAT is a ratings powerhouse. The station won the September 6am news match at households and viewers 25–54, and also won the 5pm and 6pm derbies, with KOB finishing second. At 10 p.m., KRQE had the best household score at 3.7, ahead of KOB at 3.1 and KOAT at 2.9, while KASA and KLUZ both had a 0.4. KOAT had the highest demo score at 10, his 1.2 just ahead of KRQE at 1.1. KOB received a 0.8, KLUZ a 0.3 and KASA a 0.1.
KOAT has well established anchors and keeps its helicopter on a helipad outside the station while the competitors are over at the airport. (A helicopter is essential in the massive Albuquerque-Santa Fe.)
KOAT started a newscast on August 22 at 11:00 am. The news game is not a one-way street for the broadcaster. “We try very hard to listen to our viewers,” Waldon said. “It’s not just what we think are the most important stories of the day, and it’s not just the cavalcade of what happened. It is, here’s what happened and here’s why it matters.
KOAT didn’t have an athletic department when Waldon arrived in 2019. She built one from the ground up. New Mexico may not have professional sports, she said, but it does have many sports fans.
Ron Burke is the athletic director. “We went from zero to 65 very quickly,” Waldon said. “The response from viewers is amazing.”
KOB has also launched for sports fans Football night in New Mexicoruns in front of NBC’s Football night in America Sunday. The Cowboys, Broncos, Cardinals and Raiders all have fans in New Mexico.
KRQE has a lively series of news, along with a daily morning lifestyle show Life in New Mexico, which airs on the Fox station at 9 p.m. and on The CW One at 10 p.m. “On any given morning, you’ll find six or eight or ten community members,” said Bill Anderson, VP and general manager. “Local business leaders, local charity leaders, local government lined up in our Green Room, ready to appear.”
The show also has sponsored segments.
Anderson credited KRQE’s owner with investing in the station. “If you work for Nexstar, you must have passion and an inclination to produce local programs,” he said. “Maybe even more so than ever due to the lack of syndication.”
Donaldson took over at KOB in late 2017 after four years as news director. She mentioned the channel’s active role in community business, including a task force outlining what business leaders’ priorities were in any given week amid the pandemic and what they wanted to share with the public. “Now, in the new normal, we continue to work together,” Donaldson said.
KOB also had what Donaldson called a “dedicated news campaign” to get the latest COVID booster. Just before the pandemic, it Relaunch late news as The Night Beat (opens in new tab)offers a more talkative format and a variety of angles on a lonely story when the news calls for it.
“It was built for this moment,” Donaldson said. “It was the right approach at the right time.”
KOB recently opened an office in Rio Rancho.
New owner, new news
NBCUniversal Local acquired KASA in October 2021 and relaunched it as Telemundo Nuevo Mexico. A news team was assembled, which included journalist Mayra Aguilar, and local news was released that same month, running with a delay at 5pm and 10pm on the same day
In January 2022, the news broadcasts went live.
“It is the only live Spanish language news story in New Mexico that is locally produced,” said Tony Canales, President/General Manager of KASA. “It was an important market for us that we could pick up. This underserved Hispanic market needed and needs live local news in its marketplace.”
KASA is housed outside of KOB. Canales divides his time between KASA and KTMD Houston (Telemundo Houston).
In September, a 4 p.m. hour of Telemundo El Paso news premiered on KASA. Canales called it a regional newscast rather than an El Paso-specific one. (El Paso is about 260 miles south of Albuquerque.)
Tons of sun
Meteorologist Yoselyn Castellanos joined Telemundo New Mexico in mid-October. There’s no shortage of weather in Albuquerque-Santa Fe, between wildfires, monsoons and whatever else Mother Nature has to offer.
But there’s some pretty great weather too. Residents cherish all four seasons, and several business owners praised the region’s 300 days of sunshine a year. “From sunrise to sunset, the weather is gorgeous,” Waldon said.
The economy, not so much. Businesses closed quickly during COVID and some have been slow to reopen. Government institutions such as Sandia National Laboratories and Los Alamos National Lab provide some stability to the economy, including television and film production Better call Saul, take off. “You can’t drive through Albuquerque and not come across a major film production,” Anderson said.
Political spending has helped offset the weakness of traditional TV advertisers. Some comes from former KRQE Chief Meteorologist Mark Ronchetti, running for governor against incumbent Michelle Lujan Grisham. Retired KRQE presenter Dick Knipfing appears in spots to support his former news colleague. “This whole thing looks like an old KRQE promo,” Anderson quipped.
KOAT’s Celebrate New Mexico campaign will continue after the end of 2022. “There’s a lot to celebrate in New Mexico,” Waldon said. ■