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CMU's public television number one

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1982-05-26 Central Michigan Life.jpg


Central's Alpena-based public television station has been collecting record-breaking ratings, but challenges remain for WCML to continue past successes amidst a dwindling allocated budget.

WCML, Channel 6 in Alpena, is the companion station to WCMU, Channel 14 in Mount Pleasant, and is beamed from the campus to a transmitter just outside of Alpena.

According to the Nielsen ratings for February 1982, WCML ranked first among the nation's 147 public television station in viewership, covering 59 percent of the potential audience. That 59 percent also is the highest audience share ever reported for a public television station, according to WCMI, station manager Monte Higgins.

Higgins is cautiously optimistic that these high ratings can continue-in the face of budget cuts which he says, "May cut our budget in half over a five year period."

The stations' funding comes, in part, from the federal government by way of the University. Higgins said their budget is being tightened along with many areas of Central, and WCML has turned to fund raisers to continue offering quality programming.

Higgins cited the increase of yearly fund raisers from one in 1977 to three in 1982. CMU public television donations have increased during that five year period from ;50,000 to over $300,000, according to Higgins.

"The Reagan administration's attitude is if they want it, let them pay for it." Higgins said. "Fortunately, we are finding out that the people are willing to pay."

WCML has made great strides in the Nielsen ratings in just one year's time, gathering just 42 percent of the potential audience in 1982, compared to this year's 59 percent. Higgins, who served as program manager during the last ratings period, said the station began implementing strategy that has lead to many a successful commercial television show; positioning.

Higgins said offering syndicated public television programs as an alternative rather than a competitor to the commercial stations has been a major factor in the ratings climb.

"If you wanted to watch television on Saturday, there's nothing to watch, unless it's 'Road Runner' or something," Higgins said. "So we went to a strong, adult oriented schedule on Saturday mornings. Now it is gaining momentum nationwide to counter-program the networks on Saturday morning."

Increased use of syndicated shows has also proved popular, according to Higgins. The station's most popular show, "Classic Country," is a syndicated show, as is the popular "Dr. Who." Higgins said shows such as these not only draw good ratings in their own right; but act as solid "lead-ins" for shows that generally attract less viewers.

Although the Nielsen rating system considers only Alpena and Alcona counties as WCML's viewing area, Higgins said "we are on all over on cable." Alpena and Alcona constitute a viewing based of only 19,000. but Higgins said WCML can now reach three-quarters of a million people, including Canada.

Higgins said the larger viewing area that cable offers could be a key to future funding, as more viewers could mean more donations to CMU public television.

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  • APA 6th ed.: Hitts, Roger (1982-05-26). CMU's public television number one. Central Michigan Life p. 12.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Hitts, Roger. "CMU's public television number one." Central Michigan Life [add city] 1982-05-26, 12. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Hitts, Roger. "CMU's public television number one." Central Michigan Life, edition, sec., 1982-05-26
  • Turabian: Hitts, Roger. "CMU's public television number one." Central Michigan Life, 1982-05-26, section, 12 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=CMU's public television number one | url= | work=Central Michigan Life | pages=12 | date=1982-05-26 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=23 May 2024 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=CMU's public television number one | url= | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=23 May 2024}}</ref>