There was never a time when Stanley S. Hubbard was not a broadcaster. His father was one of the first people in the business.
“My dad was a pioneer,” Hubbard said. “I used to come with my dad on Saturdays and Sundays. I spent a lot of time around the station, just hanging out and knowing everybody.
The station is KSTP-TV in St. Paul, Minn., the first one west of Chicago, and the very first in the nation to broadcast completely in color. Hubbard“s dad, Stanley E., started out in radio in the 1920s, bootstrapping a station into a successful business. It was the same with the TV station, which is why Stanley S. fires up when he hears broadcasters referred to as “spectrum squatters,” a notion widely propagated by special interests in Washington, D.C.
He“ll note that no one else wanted spectrum back when broadcasters settled it, and that it wasn“t particularly good for much until people like his dad took the risk to build the television infrastructure.
“I can tell you, no one helped my dad build this TV station,” he said.
Hubbard grew up in the business during a time when broadcasters were characterized by entrepreneurship and community roots. He grew up in Minneapolis-St. Paul and still lives there. His family has done business there his entire life. So don“t get him started on the FCC“s new localism rules requiring broadcasters to file quarterly reports on the type of programming they do.
“The lifeblood of a broadcaster is to serve the local community,” he said. “I hope we don“t have a move back to ascertainment. We do that. It“s our life blood. The business is tough enough the way that it is without burdening broadcasters with a bunch of paperwork... To the extent that the government stays out of broadcasting, the public will benefit.”
The Hubbard“s TV business now comprises stations in Minnesota, New Mexico, New York and Iowa. All are run by their local general managers. “Unlike a lot of companies that dictate programming, our stations are truly local stations,” Hubbard said. “The general manager at KOB in Albuquerque“he runs it. He lives in the community. He belongs to the clubs. I don“t. He doesn“t call here and say, “what should we do?“”
At the same time, Hubbard doesn“t think stations owned by large conglomerates are somehow less civic minded.
“In our market, we have Gannett, Fox and CBS... and they“re all good stations,” he said. “No one can say they don“t do a good job serving the public.”
NO WEB WORRIES
By most accounts, TV is a tough business these days. Capitol markets have closed up like clams. Ad money seems to be flowing toward the Internet, but Hubbard sees limitations in Web advertising.
“I believe an awful lot of money is wasted on the Internet,” he said. “It“s interesting to note that when people want to get you to their Web site, where do they advertise? Television. I think the Internet is a good place for your catalog. If you have to build brand, you can“t build brand on the Internet.”
People use the Internet to find something, not to read banner ads, he said. People still watch ads on TV.
“I think we“ll get back to the day when the best possible way to reach the audience is over-the-air television,” he said. Spoken like a true life-long broadcaster.