NEW KSL SHOWS: `FOCUS' AND `MIDDAY'

Published: Monday, Sept. 12 1988 12:00 a.m. MDT

Were things a little confusing today, with new programs messing up your regular weekday viewing schedule? Let's see if we can clear up a few things:

** FOCUS is the name of that new live morning program KSL (Ch. 5) is now airing weekdays at 8 a.m. And it's a good name, because there's no way you can talk about the show without using the title.According to Brenda Beienburg, who produces the show for KSL's public affairs division, the show will attempt to focus (see what I mean?) on one community issue each day, hearing viewpoints from both sides of the discussion and then opening up some time for public debate. Included in the format will be a phone-in line (575-7469 - or, if you prefer, KSL-SHOW) for questions and comments from viewers.

"It's an unusual format," Beienburg said Friday, "and we're anxious to see how it works."

They got some idea Monday morning with a discussion of midwifery. Tuesday morning it will be issues associated with fighting the fires that have been making things hot in the West recently. Later shows will focus (there's that word again) on the tax limitation initiatives, quality education, animal control and foster care.

Hosted by Shelley Osterloh and KSL Radio's Jay Kolls, "Focus" will include news and weather wrap-ups near the beginning and near the end. And there will also be a daily telephone referendum, where viewers will call in to register their opinions on topical issues of the day.

The big news here, however, is the public forum the show intends to provide local concerns. And so far, Beienburg said, "the people we've contacted to appear on the show have been very receptive."

But what really counts is how receptive viewers are to this kind of issues-oriented programming at 8 o'clock in the morning, when they're still trying to get their sleepy little eyes to (you knew this was coming, didn't you?) focus.

** MIDDAY has a familiar ring to it, doesn't it? And well it should. For years KSL had a weekday program by that name, hosted by the charming, affable Jackie Nokes. But even though KSL's newest noon entry shares the name and time slot of its Ch. 5 predecessor, producer Louis Degn claims today's "Midday" traces its teletronic genealogy to a show that currently airs on - dare we say it? - Ch. 2.

"Our model is the `Today' show," Degn said, referring to NBC's dominant morning talk-news program. "We'll have news and weather at the top and bottom of the hour, with the rest of the time filled with interviews, taped news feature stories, demonstrations and consumer advice."

Oh, sort of like KUTV's noon news program?

Well, yeah, Degn acknowledged. Only with two main differences.

"They're more of a news program than we'll be," she said. "And we'll do it better."

Bruce Lindsay, who shares "Midday" anchor duties with Alexis Fernandez, spoke more directly about the noon competition between Chs. 2 and 5.

"We're trying to beat KUTV at noon for the first time in my memory here," Lindsay said. "And we think we can do it with fresher news and livelier interviews."

Not to mention the star power of Lindsay, who brings his prime time (and "Prime Time Access") credentials to a time period that is usually left to second-string news anchors and back-up weathercasters. In fact, some might see "Midday" as a step down for the man many consider the personification of the future of KSL News. But not Lindsay.

"I don't see it as a significant change for me, other than the fact that I finally get to go home and have dinner with my family," he said. "I certainly won't be any different with this show than I was for `Prime Time Access' or anything else. What you see is pretty much what you get with me."

Also making the switch from "PTA" to make "Midday" contributions are science specialist Ed Yeates and movie critic Chris Hicks, who will join a cast of regulars that will include gardening expert Dave Whiting and home economist Denise Schofield. Since the program is produced by KSL News, you can also expect to see appearances by KSL News reporters with the kind of long feature stories that used to air on "PTA."

Which is not to say "Midday" will be a sort of "PTA II: The Noon Show."

"There are some stories we would do on `PTA' that just wouldn't play at this time," Lindsay said. "We're really focusing on our audience here." And that audience, he continued, is mostly homemakers and people who don't have jobs outside the home during the day.

Or, in other words, the same basic audience that Jackie Nokes used to have on her earlier "Midday" show. But really - and I mean it this time - that's where the similarities end.

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