for Channel 8, there are other alternatives.
The Federal Communications Commission can be petitioned to reassign KUHT's
frequency to a group that will better
serve the Houston area. This takes time,
but it can be done.
"University of Houston administrators
have had 27 years to make Channel 8 a
responsible, innovative, visionary station
that this city could be proud of," concluded Harrison. "They have failed miserably. It's time to take it away from them."
Good stuff, City. Keep it up.
It's been a dogfight for the last two
years," said KPRC Radio sales
manager George Stokes, referring to
the battle between his station and
KTRH Radio for the afternoon news/
talk-show listening audience in Houston.
The latest Arbitron ratings show
KPRC ahead in that dog-fight-not because they're doing anything better, necessarily, but because KTRH seems to be
doing everything worse.
It used to be that most Houstonians
who wanted a quick fix on the evening
news switched to KTRH. Not any more.
Jim Tate and Larry Oldham, a pair of
sophomoric clowns, now ride roughshod
over the airwaves from 3 to 6 p.m., with
what could loosely be termed a talk-
Their brand of humor would be offensive from a rock-and-roll DJ, but on a
news station, it's downright infuriating.
(Examples: Dave offered to fix me up
with a blind date—you know that's a big
girl who sweats a lot ... and now let's go
to the traffic report from our favorite
lady of the streets . . .)
A typical example of their crude, irresponsible style occurred last November,
just after the American hostages had been
taken in Iran. Tate and Oldham, who had
been on the air about three weeks, did a
phone interview with Melvin Dewberry, a
garage owner. Dewberry had achieved a
measure of notoriety by inviting local
patriots to sledgehammer a car that an
Iranian had left with him to sell.
The mindless glee that Tate and Oldham exhibited, and their blatant incitement to violence in a volatile situation,
were frightening. "Good for you, Melvin,
good for you," they chortled, as Dewberry relived his finest hour. When this
reporter called the station to protest, the
receptionist laughed and said, "Well, it's
funny, ain't it?"
Any local news that is grudgingly included in those three hours is treated
with scant respect. "I stopped listening to
my own news reports," sighed a former
KTRH reporter. "It was too painful. I'd
knock myself out and then they'd screw
it all up."
Not surprisingly, KTRH ratings have
slipped badly in the 3-7 p.m. time-slot
during the last year. With adult males
(over 18) the Arbitron ratings (April/May
1979) showed KTRH with a 5.5 share of
the listening audience, and 7.7 for adult
females. The same period this year shows
a 3.2 share of adult males and a 3.7 share
of adult females—over a 40 percent drop.
KPRC's ratings for the same time period
increased from 6.3 to 8.8 for adult males,
and showed a slight decrease (5.2 to 4.9)
for adult females.
Tate and Oldham have blamed the preceding time-slot for their poor showing,
claiming they don't have a strong lead-in.
That has indeed been a factor. Until
several weeks ago, it was their misfortune
to follow one of the most mind-numbing
programs ever to anesthetize Houston
listeners—two "marriage, family and
divorce counsellors," sort of Dear Abbies
of the Airwaves. Their mission, apparently, was twofold: to refer callers to fellow
counsellors and to repeat as often as possible "that all depends where you're com
ing from." The listening audience in that
time period has decreased over 30 percent
in the last year.
Interestingly enough, KTRH's best
showing in early afternoon over the last
three years was in the January/February
ratings of 1979, when former women's
advocate Nikki Van High tower hosted a
two-hour call-in show. Van Hightower
was fired the day those ratings came out
(they showed a 7.5 share of all metropolitan listeners.) Station manager Hal Kemp
called the firing "a programming decision"
—the counsellors had been waiting in the
wings since January. Van Hightower
maintained, as did other station staffers,
that her liberal views and gutsy commentaries did not sit kindly with KTRH advertisers.
The counsellors were succeeded, in
May of this year, by David Fowler, who
had been hosting a popular call-in talk
show on KPRC. Two months later, he's
back at KPRC. "We all make mistakes,"
Fowler winked in a TV promo for his
Other staffers are leaving KTRH. The
send-in-the-clowns ambience at 510 Lov-
ett has apparently taken its toll on two of
the station's best news people. Sandra
Feldman, longtime City Hall reporter,
gave up in early June and joined KPRC
TV, with the same City Hall beat. Former
morning news editor Velma Cato, most
recently acting news director, has also
gone to KPRC TV as weekend assignments editor. Cato was offered the job of
news director at KTRH before she left.
The latest Arbitron ratings (April/May
1980) show that with males aged 25-54, a
prime demographic group, country-and-
western station KIKK-FM is number one
in the afternoon. KPRC runs second.
KTRH doesn't make the top ten.
KTRH is the only all-news, information and talk-show radio station in
Houston. Since it has abandoned its
straightforward afternoon news format in
favor of bad taste and bigotry, it has lost
a significant percentage of its listeners.
One can only hope that the ratings, usually so dear to the hearts bf station managers, will prompt KTRH to get back to
the basics of good news reporting and intelligent conversation. The handwriting is
on the wall.
The All-England Lawn Tennis and
Croquet Club, better known as
Wimbledon, was the scene (July
5) of probably the most exciting
men's finals in its illustrious history.
Bjorn Borg beat John McEnroe in the
fifth set to win his fifth consecutive Wimbledon victory.
It was a real cliff-hanger, television at
its best. But, true to form, the NBC commentators, led by Bud Collins, couldn't
leave well enough alone. The match was
an ordeal, not only for the protagonists,
but for Americans as well. We were subjected, via satellite, to a barrage of 'color'
guaranteed to make one see red:
"Fifty-eight years old, this sporting
lady, this great court (the centre court).
She's run around with some sporting athletes but there's never been a match like
this . . . McEnroe creeps into the Iron
Maiden then always escapes . . . This is
like King Kong against Godzilla . . .
McEnroe has done the Perils of Pauline
and then some. . . . Borg, the angelic
assassin . . . McEnroe, Harry Houdini in
short pants . . . Heart, that's what it's going to take-heart will win this match."
The mixed doubles finals came on
next at "the big W." One of the NBC
commentators remarked that "the golden
rule in mixed doubles is—try and intimidate the lady player." After the third variation of that sentiment in five minutes,
this viewer had tuned out.
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