A funny thing happened to me in the spring of 1986 on the way to work as Director Of Programming for CBN’s KXTX Channel 39 (this is now a Telemundo station owned by NBC Universal).
We had made a deal with the ABC Television Network to be their secondary affiliate when their primary station, WFAA Channel 8, would preempt ABC prime programming. And that’s what was going on the night of April 14, 1986. Channel 8 decided to preempt the ABC Monday Night Movie for a local movie to air from 8-10 p.m. The reason is what we call in the business “Makegood Theatre” where a station preempts the network programming with limited local commercials and airs a local program where they have more commercial time to sell, increase ratings, and generate more revenue. We were scheduled by ABC to air at 8 p.m. the Made For Television movie, “A Winner Never Quits” with Keith Carradine, based on the true story of one armed baseball player Pete Gray who played in the major leagues.
KXTX did not have local news at that time and I hadn’t seen any all day. I left for dinner at my parents’ house where they had Channel 8 on. As I watched the early news there, I heard WFAA news anchor Phyllis Watson (who I worked with at KDFW in the 1990s) say that the U.S. military had struck Libya with missiles as a response to that country’s state-sponsored terrorism policy that resulted in American soldiers and civilians killed. Phyllis further announced that Channel 8 would be joining a ABC News Special Report: A Presidential Address, beginning at 8 p.m., with President Ronald Reagan!
I sat there and thought to myself, “Hold it, we’re supposed to go to ABC at 8 p.m.!” Quickly, I had to track down my boss, Dick Bove’. And that was in a day without cell phones being widely held by people. I did not have one so I was dependent on using a land line phone. Through the grace of God and some good luck, I tracked down Dick at a restaurant where he was entertaining clients. When I told him the situation, he said, “Call WFAA and let them know what we are doing.” Dick had been a long time WFAA Radio employee (during the time it and WBAP 820 would swap frequencies during the day) and was the best at not burning bridges with anyone!
I spoke to WFAA’s Assistant News Director at that time, John Miller, and explained the situation. He said, “Ken, don’t worry about us. If you are supposed to join ABC at 8 p.m., then do it.” So when 8 p.m. came, the ABC News Special Report with President Reagan was on both WFAA and KXTX! Dick and I were so proud of that moment for our station!
Once President Reagan had finished and ABC News had signed off, they started the movie and WFAA went to their local programming. It also ended any further chances for KXTX to be ABC’s secondary station. And this is something not seen today anymore. But it was fun while it lasted!
See you next time.
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