Kansas City Star features reporter/editor Tim Engle has taken a fascinating look at two new “lifestyle” shows in Kansas City and reveals the inside scoop why KSHB and KCTV have decided to go local with their programming.
Generally local TV stories are written by the Star’s Aaron Barnhart, but his byline has mysteriously not appeared in the paper since December. Sources at the Star have told Bottom Line Communications he is still an employee at the newspaper.
Engle, an 18-year veteran and a graduate of Central Missouri with a Master’s from Kansas, says KSHB’s “Kansas City Live” and KCTV’s “Better Kansas City,” which debuts next week, are produced by those stations’ Advertising Departments.
In many ways they are really infomercials with about half their guests paying for the opportunity to pitch their message in a friendly environment.
Here are some highlights from Engle’s story:
* KC Live hosts Michelle Davidson and Michael Mackie say they don’t read the barrage of negative comments about their show. However, then Mackie noted, “But we get a lot of positive comments on (the show’s) Facebook page, so that’s nice. I try not to let it faze me.” (Note: The show has generated the most negative feedback in the history of this Web site.)
* A recent segment on KC Live featured a lawyer talking about red light cameras. “Although co-host Davidson didn’t acknowledge the paid-for nature of the segment, the show ran an on-screen label for about 30 seconds: “Sponsored by Lotven Law.”
* ”The “One day, one night” tune that Mackie was singing a different day? That’s heard in National American University ads, and NAU sponsored a segment on the show. At the end of the 3-minute, 20-second interview, Mackie told the guest, an NAU rep, he liked the jingle.”
* KCTV’s GM Bobby Totsch told Engle sponsored spots and product placements on his “Better KC” show are “embedded marketing opportunities” and “a way to connect with advertisers.”
* “This “pay to play” approach would be anathema to traditional journalists, but lifestyle shows aren’t newscasts, the stations point out. They’re entertainment,” wrote Engle. Of course, many viewers will not be able to tell which is real news or advertising.