Mike Youngren, KUTV News director since 1982 and a Salt Lake City TV news fixture for most of the past 22 years, is leaving Ch. 2 by the end of the year for the larger-market pastures of KMGH-TV, the CBS affiliate in Denver.

And if that sounds suspiciously familiar, it's only because it is. Former KUTV vice president and general manager Al Seethaler bolted Ch. 2 for KMGH earlier this year. And as you might expect, the reunion is no accident, although Youngren insists that neither he nor Seethaler initiated the new arrangement."It takes a long time to break in a general manager," Youngren joked when reached by phone Tuesday evening. "And I'm sure Al would tell you that it takes a long time to break in a news director. We're comfortable working with each other, so it seems sort of natural that we would end up together again."

Rumors that Youngren was leaving KUTV have been circulating through the local television community for months, so the announcement must not have surprised station officials who were well aware of Youngren's close relationship with Seethaler. At press time, however, KUTV president Jeff Hatch could not be reached for comment.

For his part, Youngren said his feelings about leaving Salt Lake City are mixed. "I feel like I'm getting a chance to prove myself all over again," he said, "and that's going to be fun. But I've spent almost 20 years doing TV in this town. It's hard to leave all the contacts, and all the projects that we've started here like Project 2000 and our coverage of the Shootout at Jeremy Ranch."

Of course, if you look at his track record, you have to wonder if maybe he'll be back eventually to supervise those projects and others. Twice before Youngren has left KUTV - once in 1976 to serve as Gov. Scott M. Matheson's press aide and once in 1980 to work as a news director at KOCO-TV in Oklahoma City. Both times he has returned to KUTV within two years. It's like KUTV is the Yo-Yo Man and Youngren is the Yo.

But the most Youngren will say is that he plans to return to Utah occasionally to check up on the radio station he owns in Moab. Utah television, it appears, is going to have to get along without him.

At least for now.