Don Skaggs' long-standing dream of a new independent television station on Utah's UHF Ch. 14 will become a reality at 6 o'clock Tuesday morning when KXIV signs on for the first time.
The station, owned by Skaggs and his Skaggs Telecommunications Services under the subsidiary company American Television of Utah Inc., will be the Salt Lake City market's third independent station (along with KSTU and KOOG). It brings to nine the total number of locally based television stations.Plans for KXIV started about 10 years ago when Skaggs first applied to the FCC for the channel license.
"It has taken a long time to put all of this together," said KXIV program director Mike Hemingway. "Things have been especially hectic in the past year or so, as we've started to install equipment, design station logos and promos and purchase programs. But now we're at the point where we're just anxious to get on the air. There's only so much preparation you can do. Now we're all looking forward to just doing it."
When they "do it" they'll be "doing it" with an assortment of off-network reruns, syndicated programs and movies - in other words, traditional independent programming. Hemingway said KXIV will also be interested in buying sports programming as it comes along and will eventually get into the business of producing original programming.
"We feel there's an opportunity for another television station in the marketplace," said the Utah native and BYU graduate. "There are a lot of great programs that have been produced and that are being produced that aren't seen here. We really see room for us as an alternative programming source."
And "alternative" is the key word here. Hemingway acknowledges that most program syndicators will try to sell their product to the local network affiliate stations (Chs. 2, 4 and 5) and even the longer-established independents before gambling on the new kid on the dial. Even so, he maintains that there is no shortage of good programs to run.
"There's no shortage of available programs," Hemingway said. "In fact, the biggest problem I've faced is picking which of the many series available to air.
"People would call to ask about the station and ask, `What are you going to play?' I would say, `What do you want to see?' I kept hearing things like `I'd love to see `The Beverly Hillbillies,' or `Gee, that old `Dick Van Dyke Show' was great.' And I had a lot of requests for `Get Smart.'
"People want to see those old comedies because they were genuinely funny," Hemingway continued. "Standards were tighter back then and producers couldn't rely on shock humor for a laugh. They had to be creatively funny, and that kind of real comedy still holds up years later."
So Hemingway is building his weekday schedule around old sitcoms like those he mentioned. He'll also feature children's viewing blocks in the morning and in the afternoon and three regularly scheduled movies a day. Beginning tomorrow morning, the weekday schedule will look like this:
Morning: 6 a.m. - This Morning's Business; 6:30 - Popeye; 7 - Snorks; 7:30 - Smurfs; 8 - Gumby; 8:30 - The Care Bears; 9 - Morning Movie; 11 - The Dick Van Dyke Show; and 11:30 - The Munsters.
Afternoon: Noon - Jack Benny; 12:30 p.m. - Gilligan's Island; 1 - Afternoon Movie; 3 - Tom and Jerry; 3:30 - Casper (to be replaced next week by The Flintstones); 4 - Popeye; 4:30 - Casper; 5 - Airwolf; 6 - Happy Days; and 6:30 - The Beverly Hillbillies.
Prime time will feature a theme-oriented approach, with each day of the week presenting a series at 7 p.m. and a compatible movie at 8. Monday is Family Night (gee, I wonder where they came up with that idea?), with Eight is Enough reruns at 7 and a family-oriented movie at 8. Tuesday is Drama Night with The Untouchables; Wednesday is Mystery and Intrigue with It Takes a Thief; Thursday is Action Night with The A-Team; Friday is for Science Fiction with The Incredible Hulk; Saturday is for Westerns with The Wild, Wild West; and Sunday is for Variety with Fame.
Weekends will feature even more movies, with titles like "Hello, Dolly!" "To Kill a Mockingbird" and "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" already on the schedule. Hemingway promises that KXIV movies won't be edited to fit into the two-hour time period. Nor will he fill commercial time with a lot of station promos and public service announcements. "We're selling commercial time," he said.
The KXIV late-night schedule will feature Get Smart at 10 p.m., Hogan's Heroes at 10:30, Quincy at 11 and The Untouchables at midnight (except for Fridays, when a Nightmare Movie - "classic horror films, not the slasher stuff" - will air).
"We're going to look good on Tuesday," Hemingway said, "and we're going to keep getting better. And we're going to have fun doing it. That's what our `Real TV' promotion is all about. We want to present television that is fun, entertaining and enjoyable."