A Television Programmer’s Life

By Ken Foote | CBSDFW.COM
Ken Foote

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30 years, 5 television stations, 1 market. That in a nutshell describes my TV career since 1984. And one that I may say I am proud of while at the same time humbled by the success I have had that I never dreamed of.

This month I celebrate 3 decades of one of the market’s local TV programming directors. I remember that year when I was returning home from Phoenix AZ. I had been the assistant program director for the CBS station there and was awaiting a transfer with my company, Gulf Broadcast Group, to their Dallas radio station, Q102 (KTXQ-FM), which you may remember was a legendary rock station in town. But my transfer to Dallas didn’t happen and I was asked to stay put in Phoenix pending further direction. Word got to me that Cleveland and Indianapolis were on the radar screen but Gulf only had radio in those markets. Being the PD, music director, or on the air there were not options they had in mind for me, so I packed my bags and headed home.

After calling on a few stations with no luck, I landed an interview at KDFW. The programming director there did not have a job for me but he referred me to Rex Jones at KXTX who was looking for a programming assistant. After a few interviews I was hired. Later that year, Rex retired and I was promoted to programming director. From 1984-1987, I ran the programming department with a staff of five people. During this time, we had three general managers: Roger Baerwolf, Jim Reid, and Dick Bove. KXTX was restricted in the type of programming it could air. Anything dealing with the occult was off limits but they were known for their weekend westerns and World Class Championship Wrestling. And great cartoons like Bugs Bunny and Tom & Jerry!

From 1987-1993, I landed the biggest job of my life at age 33 with Gaylord Broadcasting’s KTVT, “the Super Ones” as its programming director. An indie back then, KTVT was pursuing an aggressive programming acquisition strategy because they had no new programming going forward in 1984. Milton Grant, owner of KTXA at that time, was grabbing everything he could. Only on the air since January 1981, KTXA positioned itself with the line “everyone’s turning 21” and by 1984 had advanced substantially ahead of KTVT in the ratings. By 1989, KTVT had regained dominance among the “indies” in the market. During my first tour of duty time at KTVT, Charles Edwards and Ed Trimble were our general managers; our station managers during this time were Harry Delaney, Steve Mauldin, John DeRoche, and Brian Jones. Mauldin is currently President and General Manager of KCBS-TV/KCAL-TV in Los Angeles, which is owned and operated by CBS as is KTVT and KTXA. Mauldin was also President and General Manager of KTVT/KTXA from 2003-2009 before being transferred to Los Angeles.

After a couple of years consulting with a sixth TV station in town, a NYC production company, and a few months in publishing, I joined KDFW/KDFI in 1996. I was reunited with my first boss in the business, Dave Whitaker. In 1997, FOX Television closed on the remaining portion of its investment in the stations and I found myself working for the Murdochs! Living in Fort Worth, my commute to downtown Dallas was 39 miles one way. While it was a great experience there, I lost a lot of time seeing my two sons grow up. Whitaker left in 1997 and FOX transferred Kathy Saunders from WFXT/Boston to be GM and who still runs those stations today.

In 2004, I received an offer to join CBS and KTVT/KTXA. This had been my lifelong dream to be with CBS since the William S. Paley/Frank Stanton days. Since March 2004, it has been an honor and a pleasure to serve CBS in the capacity of programming director for its DFW stations, and it also marks my 10th anniversary at CBS11 and TXA21. Gary Schneider, who had been our National Sales Manager and our Dallas Local Sales Manager from 1986-1989, is now our President and General Manager.

And now, on to my 4th decade here! Thank you all. See you next time.

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