It's getting so you can't tell your local TV personalities without a program anymore.
Let's see now - Randall Carlisle has left KUTV for the bright lights of Minneapolis, and former KUTV news director Mike Youngren has gone east to Denver. Karen Carns, now working in Phoenix, has been replaced at KTVX by Kimberly Perkins, and no one has been able to replace Michael Watkiss, who has hired on with "A Current Affair." KSL managing editor Ernie Ford is Dallas-bound, and hey - does anyone else miss longtime KSTU general manager Vickie Street?You almost get the feeling someone needs to put a sign up by the This Is The Place Monument: "Will the last broadcaster out of Salt Lake please turn off the teleprompter?"
Actually, it isn't as bad as it probably seems to viewers, who have been seeing a lot of new faces on their television screens these days. True, there are a lot of comings and goings in Utah television, but that's to be expected in a market of this size. If you can make it here, you get a chance to see if you can make it someplace else - in front of more viewers, and for more money. Look at Kathleen Sullivan. Look at Jim Nantz. Look at Lucky Seversen. Look at Dick Algire.
OK - forget Dick Algire.
Still, it's just short of amazing that so many skilled and successful TV news people stay as long as they do here in the nation's 40th-largest market - often despite lucrative offers in bigger cities. KSL's Dick Nourse, Bob Welti and Paul James have been together for almost 30 years - longer than any other local news anchor team in the country. KUTV's Bill Marcroft also counts his years of local service by the decade, and Mark Eubank, Michael Rawson and Michelle King all have big city talent. Ditto KTVX's Phil Riesen. Double ditto KSL's Bruce Lindsay.
Some say they stay in Utah because they like the lifestyle. Others suggest the axiom that it's better to be a big fish in a little pond than a tadpole in the ocean. But the best explanation is probably the simplest: Utah is a pretty, great television market. The technological facilities here are uniformly excellent and the competition is fierce. The money may not be what it is in larger markets, but then neither are the hassles.
So I don't worry if some telecasters choose to move on to larger markets. I applaud their courage and wish them well. But as they pack their bags, let's don't forget the talented journalists who choose to stay. Because of them Utah television is a destination, not just another rung on the ladder to network Nirvahna.