Other than news, not much on local television is actually local. So when one of the stations decides to create a local show and put it on live, five days a week, you can't help but notice.
That's what WISH (Channel 8) has done, replacing Martha Stewart's morning show with Indy Style. The daily lifestyle show, which debuted March 15, is devoted to exposing Indianapolis' style – whatever that may be.
"While the national shows are talking about national issues, we're going to find out what people are talking about in Indianapolis," Peggy McClelland, the local television veteran who serves as executive producer, said in an interview.
In the first week, the segments included visits from the first ladies of Indiana and Indianapolis, spring handbags, a preview of Midwest Fashion Week, cooking demonstrations, dance and music performances, weight-loss advice, financial advice and more.
Some were good, like the music by local Celtic rock band Modern Grove and the interview with glass-blowing artist Lisa Pelo-McNiece. Most went well. A few were painful – in particular, Friday's movie-review segment, which contained a lot of opinion and little context.
All of it was local.
"It's almost like Donald Rumsfeld – you go on the air with the show you have, not the show you wish you had," Tracy Forner, one of the hosts, said in an interview after the first week of shows had aired. "But it went well, I thought."
Indy Style takes advantage of TV's current trend toward product placement. That is, sponsors pay to be the experts on the show. To WISH's credit, all segments presented by an advertiser are labeled as such. (With any luck, the show will maintain a reasonable balance between guests chosen for their ability vs. those who have the ability to pay.)
Another smart move: bringing in outside hosts. And they've hired two good ones – Forner, who was a morning anchor at WXIN (Channel 59) for six years, and Andi Hauser, who comes to town from Washington state. They seem to have decent chemistry – she's fairly chipper; he has a more subtle style – and both appear to like what they're doing.
"This is a great way to showcase what makes Indianapolis, Indianapolis," Hauser said in an interview. "I think Indy's got a lot of style, baby. That's what I've been saying all along."
"Indianapolis may suffer from some strange lack of respect," Forner said. "I don't know if it's because it's in the Midwest, but I spend too much time hearing about Chicago-style pizza and New York City fashion, and everything is an Indianapolis interpretation of something from somewhere else. At times, it makes me a little angry. This is a major metropolitan area and it needs to find itself. I'm hopeful we can be a platform for that."
So far, viewership has been reasonably solid. On Thursday, Indy Style earned a 1.9 rating/7 share, meaning 1.9 percent of all TV viewers in central Indiana and 7 percent of everyone with the TV on was tuned in. That's behind Today (4.0/14.6) and the Fox 59 Morning News (3.0/10.8), roughly tied with Judge Mathis on WTTV (Channel 4) and ahead of Regis and Kelly (WRTV Channel 6) and Divorce Court (WNDY).
It's also ahead of Martha, the previous timeslot holder, which averaged a 1.7 rating/5.2 share in February.
"We want to give the viewers something to take away and, more importantly, they leave with a smile," McClelland said. "We want to give them a little education, make them think. Hopefully, everybody will find something that's important to them."
9 a.m. weekdays
WISH (Channel 8)