Graham Media Group has been named the station group of the year for 2016 by Broadcasting & Cable, a leading television and digital industry publication. Led by Chicago based President and CEO, Emily Barr, the group currently has five broadcast stations, in addition to ownership in digital and social media properties.
Graham’s station portfolio includes NBC affiliates in Houston(KPRC) and Detroit(WDIV), a CBS affiliate in Orlando(WKMG), an ABC affiliate in San Antonio(KSAT), and an independent station in Jacksonville(WJXT). Despite having only five stations, each is in a top 50 market, reaching at total of 6.4% of U.S. television households. KSAT and WJXT consistently produce the most watched newscasts in their respective markets by significant margins. KPRC and WDIV are both rated number No. 1 or No. 2 in target demographics while competing head to head with stations owned by the Big Four networks in each city. WKMG in Orlando recently became the most watched station for the critical November rating period for late news.
“Our north star guiding us is the idea that you can’t ‘cookie-cut’ coverage,” says Barr. “Detroit and Jacksonville are very different. So are Houston and Orlando. We run each station according the wants and needs of the viewers and digital consumers who live there.”
Part of the success of Graham Media is each station’s deep commitment to their local markets. KPRC helped raise over $6 million in 2016 by partnering with local charities. Viewers relied on WDIV during the Flint water crisis and WKMG after the Pulse nightclub shooting, the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. KSAT launched a program to help battle the growing opioid crisis. WJXT was the station viewers relied on during Hurricane Matthew and was the most watched station on Election night. While the election was arguably the biggest national story of the year, WJXT won the night with their fully local coverage.
“We’re aggressive, we’re competitive, and we believe in doing the right thing”, says KPRC Vice President and General Manager, Jerry Martin. “Each station has a unique brand, but those are the common threads we all share. We love celebrating our communities.”
Graham Media is also on the leading edge of the move toward digital and smart phone consumption. The company owns Social News Desk, an Atlanta based creator of software that helps newsrooms around the world curate, post and track social media. Graham Digital is a unit operating out of Detroit, tasked with staying ahead of the curve on emerging technology and meeting the growing demand of multi-platform content delivery. The group also invested an ownership stake in StormPins, a crowd sourced weather app with plans to broaden its approach in 2017. The five station’s websites averaged more than 11 million monthly unique users in 2016 and the numbers are growing. Each station live streams every newscast and in the past year alone, mobile web use for the stations content grew by 20%, mobile app users were up by more than 100% and users of weather apps grew 75%.
While many station ownership groups are consolidating and centralizing production, Graham Media is doubling down on its commitment to their local markets. Houston, Detroit, San Antonio and Jacksonville have all launched locally produced, daily lifestyle shows within the past year and a half. KSAT recently built a new facility, and KPRC is currently constructing a state-of-the-art broadcast center set to open in the second quarter of 2017. Graham is also finalizing purchases of WSLS in Roanoke, VA and WCWJ in Jacksonville, making the group well positioned for big things in 2017 and beyond.