The inaugural Rando Corridor Media Audit

By Joe Coffey | The Fifth Estate

One of the best and worst things about the internet is that you can’t control it. For local media organizations, this lack of control is annoying.

What happens when the average person pokes around to learn more about Corridor media outlets? Not someone with a handle on advertising and media markets mind you, but just a rando with an internet connection? Which outlets appear to perform well, what kind of content rises to the top, and what is the overall impression given to people who come across this stuff?

I present to you the first annual Rando Corridor Media Audit:

• “Eastern Iowa News” – Googling that phrase on an incognito (cookies-free) Chrome tab yields the following organizations’ webpages as the top non-paid search results: KCRG, KCRG, The Gazette, KGAN, KWWL, KWWL, Press Citizen, KWQC, ABC News and WQAD.

• 58 million views – KGAN’s most-viewed Facebook-hosted video of 2019 featured a phone video clip of an excited little girl running towards her dad to go fishing.

• 33 million views – KHAK’s most-viewed Facebook-hosted video of 2019 was their upload of Garth Brooks’ official music video for “Dive Bar,” a duet with Blake Shelton.

• 10 million views – KCRG’s most-viewed Facebook-hosted video of 2019 featured Missouri Valley Community Schools Superintendent Brent Hoesing in his office singing along to “Uptown Funk,” with custom lyrics written to announce a snow day.

• 3.2 million views – KWWL’s most-viewed Facebook-hosted video of 2019 was a phone video clip of three boys running to welcome home their military father at the airport.

• 151,000 views – The Gazette’s most-viewed Facebook-hosted video of 2019 was a 2.5-hour long live broadcast of the LGBTQ Presidential Forum presented by the Gazette, The Advocate, GLAAD and One Iowa.

• 57,000 – Alexa’s response when asked “How many readers does the Cedar Rapids Gazette have?”

• 43,000 – Alexa’s response to the same question five minutes later.

• “Unorganized, Negative, Toxic” – An unverified October 2019 anonymous review on TV news employee rant site also claimed there is “no accountability at KGAN/KFXA … If an anchor changes a script and makes the script wrong it’s always someone else’s fault.” The site has no other posts assigned to Corridor stations.

• 55 comments: A photo of Cedar Rapids’ first baby born in 2019, along with a prompt for user-suggested names, generated more comments than any other KCRG Instagram post in 2019. Best suggested name: “Noob.”

• 48 comments: A photo announcing the arrival of new multimedia journalist Emily Chavez generated more comments than any other KGAN Instagram post in 2019.

• KHAK-FM – The highest rated Cedar Rapids radio station according to Nielsen Spring 2019 ratings for ages 12-plus, Mon-Sun, 6am-Midnight, per Radio Online, the top search result for a cookies-free Google search for “Cedar Rapids radio station ratings.”

• June 18, 2017 – The date of the most recent video uploaded to KGAN’s YouTube channel, a three-minute video of a dark sky with extraordinary lightning that has been viewed 534 times.

• “This is ridiculous” – What former U.S. Representative Rod Blum said while taking off his microphone and leaving an interview in KCRG’s most-viewed YouTube video, which was posted in May 2017 and generated 122,000 views. After first asking him why he was checking IDs and keeping people residing outside his district from attending a town hall meeting, reporter Josh Scheinblum followed up by asking him if he would accept donations from donors outside his district.

• 681 views – View count for the most popular video on KWWL’s YouTube channel, a 43-minute special report titled, “Growing Forward: The Future of Farming.”

• 4.6 out of 5 – KGAN’s average rating from 21 reviews on Google Maps. Verbatims include, “Their lawns look amazing,” and “There are nice people here.”

• 4.4 out of 5 – KCRG’s average rating from 45 reviews on Google Maps. Verbatims include, “Bruce Aune is the best around,” and “FAKE NEWS!”

• 3.9 out of 5 – KWWL’s average rating from 31 reviews on Google Maps. Verbatims include, “They never talk about w’loo news” and “My wife and I both lost profits today because of a poor forecast…”

• US Website rankings – According to Amazon’s Alexa analytics company: #13,577 (KCRG), #16,115 (Gazette), #60,086 (KWWL), #66,426 (Press Citizen), #102,770 (KGAN), #136,926 (KHAK), #139,168 (Iowa Public Radio), #172,318 (Little Village). •

Joe Coffey has 20 years of experience as a journalist, educator and marketer in the Corridor.