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Broadcasters' Public Service
November 2014
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NAB's Licensed to Serve newsletter provides a sample of stories that illustrate the public service activities broadcasters organize across the U.S. From arranging record-breaking toy and food drives to providing free air time for political campaign coverage, Licensed to Serve showcases broadcasters' continual commitment to their communities.

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During the 2014 election season, radio and television broadcast stations across the country donated thousands of hours in free airtime to provide voters with critical information about the candidates and issues on the ballot on Election Day. In addition to providing news coverage of races for local, state and federal offices, local broadcasters also produced, aired and streamed scores of debates to help viewers and listeners make informed decisions at the polls. On Election Night, television and radio stations and networks including ABC, CBS, NBC, Univision, ABC News Radio, CBS Radio News, FOX News Radio and Salem Radio Network News replaced regular programming with wall-to-wall coverage of all the national, local and state-wide races.

"Our responsibility is to inform and educate the electorate and our stations have done a great job of cutting through the noise and providing viewers with the important information they need to know."In referring to Gannett Broadcasting's commitment to election coverage," said Gannett Broadcasting President Dave Lougee.

"Broadcasters did a tremendous job this year in stepping up to the plate and providing voters with the valuable tools necessary to make informed choices about their elected representatives," said NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith. "Local radio and televisions' stations exemplified broadcasters' deeply held commitment to localism with this banner year for election coverage."

Below is a sample of the many ways local broadcasters served their communities this election season.

Radio and Television Networks Host Debates, Get-Out-the-Vote Rallies, Cover Election Night
Telemundo Hosts Spanish-Language Gubernatorial Debates in Several States
Telemundo hosted a series of Spanish-language debates in September and October leading up to gubernatorial elections in several states. "We believe it is fundamentally important for our Spanish-language viewers and the Hispanic communities we serve across the country to be actively involved in the discussions that are taking place this election season," said Telemundo Station Group President Manuel Martinez. The debate series and other initiatives on Telemundo-owned stations included:
  • California, Sept 4: Telemundo owned-and-operated KVEA Burbank, Telemundo's PBS affiliate KQED San Francisco and the Los Angeles Times hosted a debate between incumbent Gov. Jerry Brown and challenger Neel Kashkari, which also aired on Telemundo's owned-and-operated stations KNSO Fresno, KSTS San Jose and News-Press & Gazette's KUNA-FM Palm Springs.
  • Texas, Sept. 19: Telemundo owned-and-operated KTLM Rio Grande City and Sinclair Broadcasting's CBS affiliate KGBT-TV Harlingen produced a debate between Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and state Sen. Wendy Davis, which Telemundo owned-and-operated stations KTMD Houston and KVDA San Antonio also televised. Dallas stations Telemundo owned-and-operated KXTX-TV, North Texas Public Broadcasting's PBS affiliate KERA-TV and NBC owned-and-operated KXAS-TV co-hosted a debate between Abbott and Davison Sept. 30.
  • Florida, Oct. 10: Telemundo owned-and-operated WSCV Miami hosted a Spanish-language debate between incumbent Florida Gov. Rick Scott and former Gov. Charlie Crist.
  • Enfoque, a public affairs program, aired on stations in Los Angeles, Miami, Dallas, Chicago, San Jose, Phoenix and Tucson and provided in-depth political analysis of relevant local, regional and statewide topics to help local viewers make informed decisions at the polls.
Univision Celebrates Get-Out-the-Vote Initiative
Univision owned-and-operated KXLN-TV Houston celebrated National Voter Registration Day on Sept. 23 as part of Univision Contigo. Univision Contigo's voter registration initiative helped register more than 60,000 voters nationwide this election season.
Salem Radio Stations Hold Get Out the Vote Rallies
Salem Communications hosted listener rallies in Dallas, Los Angeles and Chicago to encourage voters to cast their ballots. The rallies were hosted by KSKY-AM Dallas on Oct. 18; KRLA-AM Glendale, Calif. on Oct. 19 (Townhall 2014); and WIND-AM Elk Grove Village, Ill., on Oct. 24-25.
Gannett's Election Coverage Spans Broadcast, Online Platforms
Gannett Broadcasting sponsored, hosted and aired 50 political debates nationwide, in addition to producing special news programs during the 2014 election season.
  • Gannett Broadcasting stations produced, aired and streamed over 50 debates across the country. Participating stations included CBS affiliate WMAZ-TV Macon, Ga., which hosted two debates between Georgia's candidates for U.S. Senate and one debate featuring candidates for Georgia governor.
  • Gannett Broadcasting stations that produced exclusive online candidate interviews and aired special programming featuring political analysis and information on key issues included Gannett's NBC affiliate KARE Minneapolis, NBC affiliate WKYC-TV Cleveland and ABC affiliate WFAA-TV Dallas.
  • NBC affiliate KUSA-TV Denver's "Balance of Power" program featured political analysis on critical issues and information on local and statewide candidates. "Balance of Power" aired monthly beginning in May and twice in October.
CBS Television Commits Air Time for Political Debates
CBS Television owned-and-operated stations produced and aired debates across the country:
  • KTXA Dallas, Oct. 5, Governor [Greg Abbott, Wendy Davis]; Lt. Governor [Dan Patrick, Leticia Van de Putte]
  • KYW-TV Philadelphia, Oct. 5, Governor [Tom Corbett, Tom Wolf]
  • WBZ-TV Boston, Oct. 7, Governor [Charlie Baker, Martha Coakley, Evan Falchuk, Scott Lively, Jeff McCormick]
  • WJZ-TV Baltimore, Oct. 7, Governor [Anthony Brown, Larry Hogan]
  • WBBM-TV Chicago, Oct. 14, Governor [Pat Quinn, Bruce Rauner]
  • WFOR-TV Miami, Oct. 15, Governor [Charlie Crist, Rick Scott]
  • KCNC-TV Denver, Oct. 24, Governor [John Hickenlooper, Bob Beauprez]
  • WCCO-TV Minneapolis, Oct. 26, Governor [Mark Dayton, Jeff Johnson]
  • WCCO-TV Minneapolis, Nov. 2, U.S. Senate [Al Franken, Mike McFadden]
Local Radio and Television Stations in the Midwest Air Debates
Debates on Iowa TV Stations Feature High Profile Candidates
Media General's NBC affiliate KWQC-TV Davenport, Iowa aired and streamed three debates: on Sept. 20, incumbent Governor Terry Branstad faced Jack Hatch; on Oct. 11, candidates in the race to represent the state's 2nd Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives Dave Loebsack and Mariannette Miller-Meeks debated; and on Oct. 11, Bruce Braley and Joni Ernst's debate on KWQC-TV took on national importance, as the outcome of the election affected control of the U.S. Senate.

Nexstar Broadcasting Group aired a debate on Oct. 16 between Braley and Ernst on its ABC affiliate KCAU-TV Sioux City, Iowa and its ABC affiliate WOI-TV Des Moines, Iowa. Nexstar later replayed the debate on its CBS affiliate, WHBF-TV Rock Island, Ill.
Wisconsin Broadcasters Association Airs Gubernatorial Debate
The Wisconsin Broadcasters Association Foundation sponsored debates on Oct. 10 and 17 between Gov. Scott Walker and challenger Mary Burke. The debate aired on stations throughout Wisconsin. "We are very excited about our new debate plan and the changes that have been made to the program and believe the end result will be beneficial to our viewers, listeners, members and the gubernatorial campaigns," said WBA President and CEO Michelle Vetterkind.
Illinois Stations Air Debates, Host Candidates for Political Office
Tribune Broadcasting's ABC affiliate WQAD-TV Moline, Ill., hosted a debate on Oct. 9 between incumbent U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos and challenger Bobby Schilling. ABC owned-and-operated WLS-TV Chicago sponsored and aired a debate between candidates for Illinois Governor Pat Quinn and Bruce Rauner on Oct. 20.
KCCI-TV Airs and Streams Live Debates
Hearst Television's CBS affiliate KCCI-TV Des Moines, Iowa, hosted and streamed a live debate on Sept. 28 for candidates running for Iowa's open U.S. Senate seat, Republican Joni Ernst and U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley. On Oct. 6, KCCI-TV hosted a debate between Staci Appel and David Young, who both ran for the U.S. House of Representatives.
WLEN-FM Hosts Candidates from Michigan’s 7th District
Lenawee Broadcasting Company-owned WLEN-FM Adrian, Mich., hosted U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg on Oct. 4. Walberg, who ran for re-election in Michigan's 7th District, fielded questions from listeners live on-air during the station's weekly talk show. WLEN-FM invited all candidates running for the seat to visit the studio, so they could also interact with listeners during the show.
Kansas Broadcasters Host Debates for Governor
Schurz Communications' CBS affiliate KWCH-TV Wichita hosted a debate in the Kansas Governor race between incumbent Sam Brownback and challenger Paul Davis on Oct. 20. During a second debate between Brownback and Davis, held on Oct. 21 at the annual Kansas Association of Broadcasters convention, voters had the opportunity to share their views with the candidates by participating in a live, onlne discussion. Same-sex marriage and the candidates' plans for a balanced budget became focal points in this discussion.
New England Broadcasters Host Candidates in Advance of November Elections
Gubernatorial Hopefuls Debate on Connecticut Radio and TV
Connoisseur Media’s WPLR-FM New Haven personalities Chaz and AJ hosted gubernatorial candidates Dan Malloy and Tom Foley on Nov. 3. The radio hosts and candidates kept the discussion light by playing with Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots on air. Malloy and Foley debated on several other occasions: Sept. 30 on Meredith Corporation's CBS affiliate WFSB-TV Avon, Conn.; Oct. 9 at the Connecticut Broadcasters Association (CBA) conference, which aired live on television and radio and replayed on Tribune Broadcasting Company's Fox affiliate WTIC-TV Hartford; and Nov. 2, on LIN Media's ABC affiliate WTNH-TV New Haven.
WBZ-TV Hosts Debate in 2014 Massachusetts Governor Race
CBS Television owned-and-operated WBZ-TV Boston hosted the first debate between the 2014 Massachusetts gubernatorial candidates - Charlie Baker, Martha Coakley, Evan Falchuk, Scott Lively and Jeff McCormick - on Oct. 6. Baker and Coakley squared off twice more: on Oct. 21 on WGBH Educational Foundation's PBS affiliate WGBH-TV Boston; and again on Oct. 28 on Hearst Television's ABC affiliate WCVB-TV Boston, Boston University's WBUR-FM Boston and Bloomberg Radio.
Hearst Television's WMUR-TV and WCVB-TV Air Debates in Statewide Races
Hearst Television's Commitment 2014 campaign featured several debates. Hearst's ABC affiliate WMUR-TV Manchester, N.H aired debates in the races for the U.S. House of Represenatives, U.S. Senate and New Hampshire governor on Sept. 3, 4 and 5, respectively. Hearst's ABC affiliate WCVB-TV Boston and Sunbeam Television's NBC affiliate WHDH-TV Boston aired a debate on Sept. 3 between Massachusetts gubernatorial candidates Martha Coakley, Donald Berwick and Steve Grossman.
Rhode Island Gubernatorial Candidates Meet in WPRI-TV Debate
LIN Media's CBS affiliate WPRI-TV Providence hosted Rhode Island gubernatorial candidates Republican Allan Fung, Democrat Gina Raimondo and independent candidate Robert Healey on Oct. 21. The hour-long event covered health care, tax reform and voter identification, among other issues.
WBIN-TV Debate Features New Hampshire Gubernatorial Hopefuls
Independently owned-and-operated WBIN-TV Derry, N.H., aired a debate on Oct. 22 between Gov. Maggie Hassan and challenger Walt Havenstein. Top issues in the discussion included Medicaid and budget expansions.
Maine Broadcasters Host Debates for Gubernatorial, U.S. House Races
Sinclair Broadcasting Group's CBS affiliate WGME-TV Portland, Maine, hosted an hour-long debate between candidates for Maine governor, incumbent Paul LePage, Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud and Independent Eliot Cutler, on Oct. 20. NEPSK's CBS affiliate WAGM-TV Presque Island, Maine, hosted 2nd Congressional District candidates Democrat Emily Cain, Independent Blaine Richardson and Republican Bruce Poliquin on Oct. 21. Video of the discussion remained on WAGM-TV's website through the election.
Radio and Television Broadcasters Serve Voters With Debates in Mid-Atlantic States
New York Stations Host Debates in U.S. House Races
Nextar Broadcasting's ABC affiliate WSYR-TV Syracuse hosted a debate on Nov. 2 between U.S. Rep. Dan Maffei and challenger John Katko. Also in New York, Nextar Broadcasting's NBC affiliate WETM-TV Elmira hosted U.S. Reps. Tom Reed and challenger Martha Robertson on Oct. 23. ABC owned-and-operated WABC-TV New York City hosted U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm and challenger Domenic Recchia on Oct. 17.
CBS Philadelphia Hosts Breakfast With the Candidates
CBS Philadelphia's Oct. 4 "Breakfast With the Candidates," featuring Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett and challenger Tom Wolf, aired on CBS Radio's KYW-AM, CBS's CW affiliate WPSG-TV and streamed on KYW-TV re-aired the program on Oct. 5. "We are pleased to give the candidates the opportunity to present their positions on the critical political issues that affect our state and provide this vital information to the public," said Jon Hitchcock, president and general manager of KYW-TV and WPSG-TV.
Maryland Stations Host Debates for Gubernatorial Candidates
On Oct. 7, CBS owned-and-operated WJZ-TV Baltimore hosted Maryland gubernatorial candidates Anthony G. Brown and Larry Hogan. Topics ranged from social issues, such as abortion, to job creation and taxes. On Oct. 13, the pair debated again on Sinclair Broadcasting's MyNetworkTV affiliate WUTB Baltimore.
Pennsylvania Governor, and U.S. Rep. Candidates Square Off
Independently-owned WNPV-AM Lansdale, Pa., hosted Republican Mike Fitzpatrick and Democrat Kevin Strouse, who ran for U.S. Representative from Pennsylvania's 8th Congressional District, on Oct. 15. Hearst Television's ABC affiliate WTAE-TV Pittsburgh televised a debate on Oct. 8 between Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett and challenger Tom Wolf.
Electorate Benefits From Candidate Debates Aired in the South
Radio and Television Stations in Texas Air Debates in English and Spanish
On Oct. 24, Univision owned-and-operated KUVN-TV Dallas aired and streamed a debate between U.S. Senate candidates John Cornyn and Democratic challenger David Alameel. The debate broadcast in both English and Spanish. On Sept. 30, North Texas Public Broadcasting’s KERA-FM and PBS affiliate KERA-TV Dallas hosted, aired and streamed a one-hour live debate with candidates for Texas Governor, Attorney General Greg Abbott and state Senator Wendy Davis. Co-producers of this debate, which re-aired on KERA-TV on Oct. 1 and Oct. 5 and on KERA-FM on Oct. 3, include NBC owned-and-operated KXAS-TV Dallas and Telemundo owned-and-operated KXTX-TV. The Texas Association of Broadcasters provided translation and closed-captioning services, and funded satellite distribution to radio and television stations statewide.
NCAB Hosts Debates for North Carolina's Senate Candidates
The North Carolina Association of Broadcasters (NCAB) hosted a debate on Sept. 3 between candidates running for the open North Carolina U.S. Senate seat. The debate, featuring U.S. Senator Kay Hagan and Republican challenger Thom Tillis, broadcast live and aired on stations across North Carolina.
GAB Hosts First Senatorial Forum for Georgia Candidates
The Georgia Association of Broadcasters (GAB) partnered with the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and Georgia News Network (GNN) to host the first forum between U.S. Senate candidates Michelle Nunn and David Perdue on Aug. 21. Gannett Broadcasting's CBS affiliate WMAZ-TV Macon, Ga., provided a live pool feed for local and national outlets for on-air and live streaming use.
Debates Air for Arkansas Governor, U. S. Representative, Senator
Nexstar Broadcasting's NBC affiliate KARK-TV Little Rock hosted a Sept. 19 gubernatorial debate that also aired live on Nextar's KNWA-TV Fayetteville and KTAL-TV Texarkana. On Oct. 12, KARK-TV Little Rock aired an interview with French Hill and Pat Hays, candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives. Sinclair Broadcasting's ABC affiliate KATV Little Rock debate on Oct. 14 with U.S. Senate candidates aired live on Raycom Media's ABC affiliate KAIT-TV Jonesboro and Hearst affiliates in Fort Smith, KHBS and KHOG-TV. On Oct. 16, KATV hosted gubernatorial candidates Ana Hutchison and Mike Ross.
Florida Gubernatorial Candidate Debates Air on Local Stations
Charlie Crist and Rick Scott, candidates for Florida governor, met in three debates: Oct. 10 on Spanish-language Telemundo; Oct. 15 on CBS owned-and-operated WFOR-TV Miami; and Oct. 21 on Graham Media Group owned-and-operated WJXT Jacksonville. Univision's owned-and-operated WLTV-TV Miami and WAQI-AM Miami hosted a debate on Oct. 21 between Carlos Curbelo and Joe Garcia, candidates for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Texas Stations Hold Gubernatorial Debate September 19
Sinclair-owned CBS affiliate KGBT-TV Harlingen, Texas and Sunbelt Communications' Telemundo affiliate KTLM-TV McAllen, Texas, partnered with The Monitor to host the first gubernatorial debate for candidates Attorney General Greg Abbott and state Sen. Wendy Davis. The hour-long debate broadcast live on Sinclair stations across the state, including NBC affiliate WOAI-TV San Antonio, FOX affiliate KABB-TV San Antonio, CBS affiliate KEYE-TV Austin, CBS affiliate KFDM-TV Beaumont, ABC affiliate KVII-TV Amarillo and FOX affiliate KFOX-TV El Paso.
WECT-TV North Carolina Airs Debate in Race for U.S. Senate
Raycom Media's NBC affiliate WECT-TV Wilmington, N.C., televised a debate on Oct. 7 between incumbent U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan and Republican Thom Tillis. ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos moderated the discussion, which covered topics including U.S. foreign policy, the Ebola outbreak, the Common Core academic standards, and gay marriage.
Louisiana TV Station Hosts U.S. Senate Candidates in Debate
Gannett Broadcasting's CBS affiliate WWL-TV New Orleans hosted U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu and Republican challenger Rob Maness on Oct. 27. In this debate, their third this election season, the candidates discussed health care reform, ISIS and immigration. U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy, also running for the seat, declined an invitation to participate.
Local Stations in the Western U.S. Host Candidates in Key Races
Colorado Stations Broadcast Debates in Several Races
Gannett Broadcasting's NBC affiliate KUSA-TV Denver produced, aired and streamed several political debates. KUSA-TV hosted candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives 6th Congressional District seat on Oct. 6; Colorado Governor on Oct. 9; and U.S. Senate on Oct. 15. Tribune Broadcasting's Fox affiliate KDVR Denver had previously hosted Colorado's U.S. Senate candidates on Oct. 6. During Colorado's first Spanish-language congressional debate - held Oct. 23 on Entravision's Univision affiliates KCEC-TV Denver and KVSN-TV Colorado Springs - U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman and Andrew Romanoff discussed issues affecting Colorado's Latino community.
KTUU-TV Airs Debate for Alaska’s U.S. Senate Seat
Schurz Communications' NBC affiliate KTUU-TV Anchorage hosted U.S. Senator Mark Begich and Republican challenger Dan Sullivan on Oct. 29. Sullivan and Begich debated again the next night, Oct. 30, on Alaska Public Telecommunications' KSKA-FM and PBS affiliate KAKM Anchorage.
KNTV-TV Hosts Debate for Competitive House Race
NBC owned-and-operated KNTV-TV San Jose, Calif., hosted a debate on Oct. 17 between incumbent U.S. Representative Mike Honda and Democrat Ro Khanna. Honda and Khanna ran in California's 17th Congressional District.
Oregon Stations Air Senate, Gubernatorial Debates
California Oregon Broadcasting's NBC affiliates KOBI-TV Medford, Ore. and KOTI-TV Klamath Falls, Ore. aired two debates: on Oct. 14, U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley faced challenger Monica Wehby; and on Oct. 20, incumbent Gov. John Kitzhaber faced Republican challenger Dennis Richardson. KOBI-TV also featured the debates prominently on its website. “These debates will give viewers a great opportunity to learn about the candidates, where they stand on issues and what they intend to do if elected,” said Bob Wise, KOBI-TV and KOTI-TV vice president and general manager. “We believe it is critical to help voters make an informed choice.”
KPNX-TV Airs Arizona Gubernatorial Debate
Gannett Broadcasting's NBC affiliate KPNX-TV Phoenix hosted gubernatorial candidates Doug Ducey and Fred DuVal in a debate in Sept. KPNX-TV encouraged viewers to tune in to see candidates "answering questions and giving opinions that you can't see in those commercials."
Ratings Victory for KCAL-TV Gubernatorial Debate
CBS-owned and operated KCAL-TV Los Angeles aired a debate on Sept. 4 between Gov. Jerry Brown and challenger Neel Kashkari. Ratings data indicated that the broadcast reached 83,000 total viewers, surpassing several popular prime time television shows, including "Modern Family," "The Simpsons" and "Two and a Half Men."
Candidates Decline Televised Debates
Candidate Indecision Cancels WOOD-TV Debate
Lin Media Group's NBC affiliate WOOD-TV Grand Rapids cancelled debates in gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races after the campaigns could not agree. "WOOD TV8 is committed to bringing the voters of West Michigan the best coverage of Decision 2014. We believe debates are an important part of that process," said a station spokesperson. "We remain hopeful that both sides of the governor and U.S. Senate races will come together and allow us to offer voters a real, televised, live debate. Our viewers have important choices ahead and they deserve the opportunity to compare candidates' views on critical issues facing our state and country."
Candidates in Three Arizona Races Decline Debates
The Tuscon League of Women Voters cancelled plans for three televised October debates in races for secretary of state, attorney general and superintendent of public instruction after candidates declined invitations. "When candidates decline to participate in a televised debate in Tucson, it shows disrespect for Pima County and its voters," said the League's Sue DeArmond in a statement.
Broadcasters Serve the Public Interest as Candidates Waffle on Debates
Despite a trend among incumbents to skip debates offered by broadcasters, radio and television stations stepped up their efforts to educate voters this election season. Reid Wilson of The Washington Post offers several examples of incumbents nationwide who have refused to engage their challengers. Radio Business Report noted, "The proud broadcast tradition of providing face-to-face platforms for candidates is a perfect example of both localism and serving the public interest."