KUTV has babes on the brain -- and not just because Michelle King, Tami Sanders and Bob Evans are all expecting new arrivals sometime before the end of the July sweeps.
The station has developed a public service campaign called "Baby Your Baby," which the National Association of Governors called "the best community outreach campaign in the country" during their recent conference in San Antonio. And it's got everyone at Ch. 2 feeling maternal."I guess this campaign has sort of become our baby," said KUTV programmer Maria Smith with a chuckle. "We've given it a lot of time and attention, and now we're watching it sort of take off on its own."
Extended over two years at a cost of more than $2.25 million, "Baby Your Baby" is aimed at encouraging expectant mothers to seek prenatal health care and informing economically disadvantaged women about financial assistance available to them.
"We're targeting high-risk women - teens, minorities, the poor," Smith said. "These are the women who have not been as likely to seek prenatal care, and women who don't receive prenatal care are statistically more likely to have a low birthweight baby. That's a concern because a baby weighing less than 51/2 pounds is 10 times more likely to die. Who can calculate the cost of that loss in human potential?"
So "Baby Your Baby" was born to "get more babies born healthy," according to Smith. The campaign has included public service announcements, documentaries like tonight's Baby Your Baby: More Than a Miracle (7:30 p.m., Ch. 2), special editions of "P.M. Magazine" and "Take Two," more than 1 million viewer guides and pamphlets and a toll-free hotline (1-800-826-9662). KUTV has worked with the Utah Department of Health, the Utah Medical Association Foundation, the March of Dimes and Blue Cross-Blue Shield to provide "Baby Your Baby" services.
And so far it seems to be having an impact. "We are tracking every single pregnancy in the state of Utah for two years," Smith said. "The numbers from our first year are beginning to come in, and it looks like the state has experienced a 200 percent increase in the number of women seeking prenatal care at Department of Health sites. We have to believe we had something to do with that."
If that's so, tonight's special should do even more good for the cause. Hosted by King, who brings a nice personal touch to the proceedings, "More Than a Miracle" traces the maternity experience from the first doctor's visit to an actual birth (which is tastefully handled, as long as you don't mind the notion of a birthing room filled with family and friends). It presents an upbeat view of prenatal care so that, as King says, "we who are pregnant can bring healthier babies into the world."
"So often," Smith says, "television gets a bad rap for some of the dumb things we do. This is one area where we really think we can make a difference - a positive difference."
-ALSO ON TV TONIGHT: You can participate in a little TV history tonight when a failed hourlong dramatic series - "Tattinger's" - comes back to life as a sitcom in the premiere of Nick & Hillary (8:30 p.m., Ch. 2). The cast is pretty much the same, with Stephen Collins (as Nick), Blythe Danner (as Hillary), Jerry Stiller, Mary Beth Hurt and newcomers Chris Elliott and Anna Levine. So's the production staff, which includes most of the same people who gave us "St. Elsewhere." Even the setting is the same - a New York restaurant - only in the sitcom pilot Hillary turns the elegant eatery into a lively night spot. Sound fun? NBC sure hopes so. It would hate to have to cancel the most anticipated new series of the season - twice.
Tonight's installment of Ethics in America (8 p.m., Ch. 7) also looks interesting, if not quite as historic. Titled "Politics, Privacy and the Press," the episode attempts to walk the thin line that separates a public person's right to privacy and the general public's right to know. Representing the media in this exchange are TV figures like Peter Jennings and Mike Wallace. On the other side of the issue are several public figures who have experienced the reality of this session's hypotheticals, including Geraldine Ferraro and Gen. William Westmoreland.