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WCBB heads list for viewers of public television

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1985-10-20 Sunday Sun Journal.jpg


LEWISTON — WCBB Program Manager Harry Wiest has tacked a reminder to the wall behind his desk. Memo to Harry from Harry, the note reads, followed by a USA Today newspaper clipping, which asks in bold headline type: Is there life after shaky ratings?

It's a question Wiest can put behind him for now. According to the most recent Nielsen Audience Survey, WCBB-Channel 10, entertains a higher percentage of available prime time viewers than any other public broadcasting station in the country.

"We went up in rank from 73rd to number one," said the delighted Wiest on Friday, noting that during July, 1984, there were 58,000 viewing households watching WCBB, compared to 93,000 in July of this year — an increase of 60 percent.

The percentages are determined by comparing the number of (PBS) viewing households during prime time hours ( 8 to 11 p.m.) with the actual number of television households in a broadcasting area, Wiest explained, adding that while public television networks from areas with greater populations may have more actual viewing households, they hold a smaller percentage of available viewers overall. There are 147 reportable public television services included in the national survey.

Wiest, who, following a seven-year hiatus with other networks, only recently returned to WCBB, attributes the dramatic leap in numbers to good programming and a "very dedicated (WCBB) core audience."

Programs running during the July 11 through August 7 rating period included a documentary called "Hiroshima Remembered," "Smithsonian World," "Washington Week in Review," and "National Geographic." Wiest said these programs lured a high number of viewing households, competing successfully with shows aired at the same time by commercial television networks.

"Frequently, we had as much as a third of the viewers who might normally watch a commercial station," said the program manager.

Wiest also pointed to the addition of a double feature for the Sunday afternoon movie as one way the station may have picked up viewers. "We used to have just one afternoon movie, but we switched to a double feature," he said, explaining that people staying tuned to WCBB for a longer period of time may be more inclined to tune in again or check the listings for future shows being aired.

He added that WCBB also made a more dedicated effort toward placing programs for individual audiences during suitable time periods. "We program to a lot of highly defined audiences, while commercial television programs to a much more general audience," he said, explaining, however, that it is important to keep in mind who the potential viewers, are at any given time of day.

The ratings are even more significant, Wiest said, because normally homes using television sets during July and August "are way down due to summer activities and vacations. Yet this year, he points out, even locally produced programs such as "So You Think You Know Maine" had a larger viewing audience than expected.

Wiest, who resigned as WCBB's program manager in 1977 and returned last year, believes that off the air promotion has also been successful this past year. "We've really just started giving the public a chance to see us and ask questions," he said, noting that WCBB set up information booths at the Common Grounds Fair and the Fryeburg Fair this summer and offered tours of the station during the formal opening of new facilities last January.

Programs like "Dr. Who," a show which takes place "somewhere in the universe" and stars a humanoid space lord, may help WCBB develop a broader viewing audience, Wiest said. Describing the show as "not really science fiction, but .kind of," he said, "I could probably beat the number (of viewing households) with a movie, but the point is, Dr. Who gives "us an entirely different audience than those who usually watch public television." The program airs on Saturday nights, he said, admitting, "I'm hooked on the show myself."

The next Nielson Survey rating period will take place in November. Wiest hopes that other program changes made by WCBB will be reflected in future ratings.

Four rating periods a year and the constant pressure of competition, however, will keep public television program managers on their toes. The ratings for July have barely been applauded before the November survey is under way. At WCBB, Wiest says he will continue to schedule movies by audience request, promote programming and scheduling for highly defined audiences, and "do what public television is supposed to do," provide educational programs.

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  • APA 6th ed.: McRae, Linda (1985-10-20). WCBB heads list for viewers of public television. Sunday Sun Journal p. 1B.
  • MLA 7th ed.: McRae, Linda. "WCBB heads list for viewers of public television." Sunday Sun Journal [add city] 1985-10-20, 1B. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: McRae, Linda. "WCBB heads list for viewers of public television." Sunday Sun Journal, edition, sec., 1985-10-20
  • Turabian: McRae, Linda. "WCBB heads list for viewers of public television." Sunday Sun Journal, 1985-10-20, section, 1B edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=WCBB heads list for viewers of public television | url= | work=Sunday Sun Journal | pages=1B | date=1985-10-20 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=23 February 2024 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=WCBB heads list for viewers of public television | url= | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=23 February 2024}}</ref>