February 20th, 2013
Country Club Fire

Which TV station had the best coverage of the massive gas explosion that leveled JJ’s Restaurant early Tuesday evening on the Country Club Plaza?

Many claim KSHB, the NBC affiliate located down the street from the explosion, was the clear standout (see below).  Others say that longtime news leader KMBC dominated the evening’s coverage.

Some viewers didn’t care about the coverage and Tweeted their views about missing their favorite TV shows.

Others gave the nod to KCTV, which led in the ratings from 7-8 p.m. (It should be noted that KCTV and KSHB share the same  helicopter.  However, KSHB is the only station with access to copter pilot Captain Gregg Bourdon.  KCTV receives only the video feed.)

Fox 4 found itself on the outside looking in since the station had no access to a helicopter.

Part of the coverage debate focuses on ratings and when the story actually broke.  Sources at KSHB say the story broke at 6:08 pm.

“That’s when the story was “breaking,” not 6:30 to 7 p.m. as they claim,” says an insider at KSHB.  “From 6-6:30 pm we were #1, by far, and Channel 9 was almost dead last.”

A KMBC insider says its helicopter and pilot Johnny Rowlands were first on the scene before the fire department arrived, and that KSHB’s copter likely didn’t arrive until 15-20 minutes later.  However, KSHB has copter shots time-stamped at 6:09 p.m. that dispute that claim.

KMBC landed a huge rating of 11.1 and an 18 share between 6-7 p.m., and the ABC affiliate kept that ratings lead throughout much of the 7-10 p.m. coverage with a 9.5/14 average.

In fact, at the 10 p.m. news period KMBC recorded a 10 share/17 rating and KSHB was second—64% behind.  KMBC’s continuing “breaking news” coverage earned a 7.0/14 between 10:30 and 11 p.m.

It should be noted that the coverage by the journalists at the Kansas City Star was superb (LINK).

Here are the hourly ratings/share breakdowns:

6 p.m.-7 p.m.

  KSHB  10.2

  WDAF  8.6

  KMBC  7.6

  KCTV  7.3

KCTV – 12.0/18
KMBC – 10.9/17
KSHB – 6.8/11
WDAF – 5.4/9

KMBC – 10.0/14
KCTV – 8.6/12
WDAF – 6.5/10
KSHB – 5.1/8

KMBC – 7.5/11
WDAF – 6.2/9
KCTV – 6.1/9
KSHB – 4.2/6

21 Responses

  1. Frank Grey says:

    You are a pretty callous individual if you’re concerned about ratings less than 24hrs from this tragedy and less than 6 hours after a body was pulled from the rubble.

    Surprised you wasted a post on this, John.

  2. Rolland says:

    Are the ashes even cool yet?

  3. newsjunkie says:

    Where your original post? Did you take it down because you were sick of people taking slams at you? You should put it back up so every comment made about the stations can be seen.


  4. newsjunkie says:

    You also didn’t include the SHOW times. The numbers show while people turned to KMBC during Primetime (which isn’t unusual since they have the best Primetime programming and likely stayed because they saw what was happening) KSHB won at 6 p.m. AND 10 p.m.

    Let’s put things in perspective here! You’re just doing your best to make KMBC seem like the real winner when they didnt’.

    • JohnLandsberg says:

      Now you are just being petty. All the stations had shows (KCTV had NCIS) that people likely turned to hoping the explosion coverage was over.

  5. BK says:

    Way to stay classy, KC television.

  6. BillthePainter says:

    Wow John,

    Some of your readers are real a-holes!

    Your story has nothing directly to do with the explosion itself, but the RATINGS of the stations that were covering it.

    It’s what they DO! It’s what YOU do!

    • JohnLandsberg says:

      That’s pretty much what I was thinking…
      Keep in mind some of these folks probably Tweeted this during the coverage: http://storify.com/ericasmith/restaurant-explosion-vs-tv-shows

      • Rolland says:

        I think the issue is one of proximity and timing. It seems just a little too close to home and a little too soon to be having a discussion about TV rating. I realize it’s what you do, but I don’t think that makes it right. After all, Grey New York does marketing, but that doesn’t make their Playtex ads any more professional.

        • JohnLandsberg says:

          Comparing TV ratings to an ad campaign?

          • Rolland says:

            NOT GETTING IT
            You’re not quite getting it. Orange #1 – your poor judgement in posting an irrelevant, disrespectful discussion of TV ratings related to a terrible tragedy within the community less than 24 hours after it happened, Orange #2 – Grey New York’s poor judgement in creating an ad campaign based on locker room humor. The consistent thread is that you’ve both chosen to hide your poor judgement behind the “it’s what we do” cop out. It’s not the same, it’s analogous. Let me put it more simply…if I was the father of the person found in the rubble today, and came across your post discussing how well the TV stations covered my child’s death less than 24 hours later, would you feel differently? What if, heaven forbid, it was one of your loved ones? Would you still be as interested in who had the best coverage?

  7. Person says:

    KSHB. They may not have lead in the ratings the whole night, but if you have CNN, the New York Times, Reuters, the BBC, the most viewed website, the highest number of live-streams AND the most active social media page, then you won the coverage…practically internationally.

    I also think that KCTV5 not having access to Gregg Bourdon hurt them some. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if KSHB refused to share him when they agreed to share their helicopter…looks like that might have paid off here.

    Congrats and good for them. They’ll definitely brag about this one for a while.

  8. Rich says:

    WDAF doesn’t have a helicopter, but they do have a popcorn machine.

  9. Scott Simon says:

    I watched Channel 9 on the stream and the coverage was good and Johnny Rowlands still is one of the 3 best helicopter pilot/reporters in the U.S. You folks in KC who are drive-by editorial commenters really don’t know how good you have it in regards to wall-to-wall breaking coverage; it’s better than most major markets.

  10. Person says:

    You have GOT to do a story on how KMBC started to air their news tonight at 4pm…and haven’t stopped. They even preempted the ABC World News Tonight and have been taking VERY few commercial breaks.

    At this rate, by the time it’s all said and done, they would have been on the air for three solid hours talking about two things: the Plaza fire explosion and the approaching winter storm.

    There’s domination of coverage, there’s detailed coverage, there’s extensive coverage, and then there’s excessive, tabloid-like coverage. They’re in the last one now, and entered it the moment they went on with their news into 5:30pm.

    • JohnLandsberg says:

      I have written stories in the past about how KMBC seems to be morphing into the “Live, Late-Breaking, Scare-the-Hell-Out-of-Viewers” station these days.
      That worked briefly for KCTV a few years ago, but that kind of reporting has a short shelf life.

  11. matt says:

    No needed for coverage on all KMBC Channels. KSMOTV could have shown NCIS and so on. At least after Basketball game was over KMCI showed Smash.

  12. max says:

    KSHB and KMBC are both morphing into the shell left behind by KCTV5. The story was certainly tragic and deserved coverage. The repetition and speculation provided nothing after the basics of the story broke. Both stations sounded amatuerish in their attempt to emulate newtwork anchors covering a live event. That is what happens when they step out of the vacant house fires and car off the road stories that qualify as breaking news. On a KMBC news teaser the other night, Lara Moritz came on holding a shovel and a bag of salt in reference to the upcoming storm. How stupid is that? We get it! KMBC is annoying as hell with the beeps to remind me we are under a winter storm warning. Guess it’s as annoying as KMBC’s “you need to know” line, Krista Dubill’s Katy-like dramatic reporting and Lezak’s “complicated” forecasts.

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