If there was ever a clear demonstration of the old adage: “Perseverance pays,” it’s the continuing fight waged by IBEW Local 4 against KSDK, Channel 5 who just recently lost its bragging rights as St. Louis’s top station to KMOV Channel 4.
Neilson ratings for September show Channel 4 is the No. 1 news station at the prime viewing times of 5, 6 and 10 p.m. and second place to Channel 2 in the morning. KSDK once enjoyed that unique distinction, but no more.
Notes veteran commentator Jerry Berger in his on-line column Berger’s Beat (www.bergersbeat.com) “…There’s little doubt that the station’s labor dispute with IBEW Local 4 and the (union’s aggressive) boycott have contributed to the ratings decline.”
SCAPEGOAT FOR DECLINE
And because this loss of audience relates directly to advertising and a station’s profitability, KSDK has found a scapegoat for their declining viewership: they have fired veteran news director Mike Shipley!
Quoting a Channel 5 staffer, Berger’s column adds: “It appears that (outgoing news director) Mike Shipley was selected to serve as fall guy for Gannett’s mismanagement of KSDK.”
A KSDK staffer, talking off the record to the Labor Tribune, quietly confirmed the belief around the station that Shipley was the convenient scapegoat, referring to the highly profitable Gannett as “The Evil Empire.”
Shipley has been with the station for 33 years. He graciously agreed to stay on until his replacement is found. Station Manager Marv Danielski has refused to discuss the issue on the excuse that it’s a personnel matter. Shipley began at KSDK in the early 1980s as an assignment desk worker. He rose to newsroom operations manager, assistant news director and then news director by 2000.
The successful boycott centers around owner Gannett’s demand that the union give up its entire jurisdiction allowing the station to assign Local 4’s jobs to anyone they wish, in or out of the station. This of course would destroy the work of technicians, photographers, editors and broadcast maintenance engineers.
The union’s contract expired last year and an extension ended in March. Since then, there have been a “handful” of meetings with Gannett and Local 4’s negotiating committee. However, Gannett has refused to budge off its outrageous demand reports IBEW Local 4 Business Manager Mike Pendergast.
POLICE JOIN BOYCOTT
Several weeks ago, the St. Louis County Police Officer’s Association (SLCPA) joined the boycott in protest of the station airing the address of the police officer involved in the shooting of Ferguson resident Michael Brown.
“KSDK Channel 5 sunk to an all time low. They not only put Officer Wilson’s life, family, and property in danger, they disrupted and threatened an entire neighborhood,” said an infuriated SLCPA President Gabe Crocker. When that happened, “goodbye” to more viewers.
HOW TO HELP
Besides turning off Channel 5, readers are urged to contact General Manager Marv Danielski and let him know you are turning off his station until he stops this scab effort and seriously returns to the bargaining table. There are several ways to reach him:
• Call: (work) 314-444-5271 or better yet, his cell: 314-452-6471.
• Email: email@example.com
• Write: Marv Danielski, Station Manager, KSDK-TV, 1000 Market Street, St. Louis, MO, 63101.
IBEW 4 using multi-media boycott campaign
IBEW Local 4 has indeed persevered in its aggressive efforts to bring its dispute with KSDK to the public’s attention. The effort has proven extremely valuable, as Channel 5 is no longer the No. 1 news station in St. Louis, a lofty perch it enjoyed for years.
Local 4’s campaign has included:
- A special website (www.turnoffksdk.com) which has received more than 20,500 visits from April 1 when the campaign began thru Oct. 9.
- Billboard advertising on Highway 40 (I-64).
- An incredible social media campaign on Facebook and Pandora (which has scored more than 150,000 impressions).
- A series of online videos on Facebook that reached 26,800 viewers.
- Google ads to “Boycott Channel 5” that show up randomly on tens of thousands of individual computers, including Channel 5’s own website. That brought howls of anguish from the station and cheers from the labor community… and an additional 17,000 clickthroughs back to the union’s boycott website.
- A web campaign (Facebook and Google ads) in Gannett’s hometown, McClean, VA, “Turn off Gannett” took viewers back to the turnoffksdk.com website with almost 300 Virginians going to the union’s website from the Gannett headquarters.
- Radio commercials during the Cardinal’s games on radio giant KMOX.
“And we have no plans to quit until Gannett understands that destroying the jobs of our members is not something our union, or the entire St. Louis community, will accept,” said Local 4 Business Manager Mike Pendergast.